Draft list like a college all-star team
Detroit loads up on proven stars on Day 1 of lottery
The Tigers spent much of their time leading up to the First-Year Player Draft weighing a high school pitcher or a college guy. Once the first round passed, Detroit's draft crop read like a collegiate all-star team.
The Big Ten Player of the Year went in the second round. They plucked the SEC Player of the Year in the fourth. One of the best catchers available in the draft fell to Detroit in the sixth. The architect of one of the biggest upsets of this year's NCAA Tournament went in the eighth.
It sounds a lot like the college picks the Tigers assembled last year, but scouting director David Chadd assures it wasn't by design.
"We didn't set up the board with the intent to take one or the other," Chadd said. "It's just the impact of signability to take high school guys."
Once the Tigers passed on Gatorade National High School Player of the Year Clayton Kershaw to select UNC left-hander Andrew Miller, by most accounts the top college pitcher available, the theme was set. Detroit didn't select a prep player until the 11th round. They drafted just three high schoolers over 18 rounds on the first day, a ratio that should balance out somewhat once the draft resumes Wednesday.
What stands out about the collegians the Tigers selected isn't simply proven performance, but also size. Including Miller, three of Detroit's top four picks are listed at 6-foot-5 or taller, including a 6-foot-6 center fielder. University of Kentucky first baseman Ryan Strieby has a frame and track record that make him virtually a right-handed hitting version of former Arizona State first baseman Jeff Larish, last year's fifth-round pick.
Miller isn't even the tallest player the Tigers selected. That honor falls to 6-foot-7 Nebraska right-hander Brett Jensen, who went in the 14th round. He was part of the Cornhuskers team that Chris Cody and Manhattan upset.
"That's just what this year's draft gave us," Chadd said. "As far as the size goes, I've already told [Minor League operations director] Dan Lunetta they're going to have to get some bigger uniforms."
Here's a look at all the Tigers' selections from Day 1:
Round 2: Ronald Bourquin, 3B, Ohio State
Bourquin "kind of flew under the radar," as Chadd put it. By the end of the Buckeyes' season, though, he had made his name. He led the conference with a .416 batting average, .612 slugging percentage, .492 on-base percentage, 66 RBIs and 134 total bases.
"He's a big, strong, physical third baseman," Chadd said, "and a left-handed hitter as well. He's got a nice approach at the plate."
Round 3: Brennan Boesch, CF, Cal-Berkeley
A first-team preseason All-American, the towering center fielder batted .313 with 11 doubles, 10 homers and a team-best 42 RBIs. His season wasn't as good as some expected, but Baseball America nonetheless ranked him 125th on its list of the top 200 prospects going into the draft. Though he projects as a corner outfielder, he is considered athletic for his size.
Round 4: Ryan Strieby, 1B, Kentucky
The SEC Player of the Year was also a first-team All-American after leading the conference in RBIs, doubles, on-base and slugging percentages. He ended up topping 35 homers -- 20 of them this season -- and 35 stolen bases for his career. His 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame for his position played resembles that of Larish, though he bats from the opposite side.
"We just like the package there," Chadd said. "He is a very good defender and he has got power potential in the bat."
Round 5: Scott Sizemore, 2B, Virginia Commonwealth
The product of Brandon Inge's old school flashed some decent overall tools between VCU and the Cape Cod League over the last two years. He hit for a .300 average, 15 doubles, seven triples, seven homers and 44 RBIs as a junior, not as strong as his sophomore year but good enough to rank as Baseball America's third-best prospect in the state going into the draft.
Round 6: Jordan Newton, C, Western Kentucky
For a team that has little to no depth in the farm system behind the plate, Newton's availability in the sixth round was a blessing. He was among the top 150 prospects in Baseball America's rankings, regarded more for his offensive skills than his catch-and-throw abilities. He is not a big backstop at 6-0, 190, but he's more agile in the mold of a running catcher.
"We do expect him to play catcher," Chadd said. "Our scouts obviously like his athleticism, plus he's got power in the bat. To get him with that pick, obviously we're excited. With the lack of catching on the board, we were fortunate to get him in that spot."
Round 7: Jonah Nickerson, RHP, Oregon State
One of several Oregon State players on the prospect list, Nickerson entered the year as a second-team All-American and was a Team USA member last summer coming off a stellar sophomore season. He went 10-4 with a 2.67 ERA this spring, striking out 105 batters over 107 2/3 innings while holding opponents to a .209 batting average.
Round 8: Chris Cody, LHP, Manhattan
The MAAC Pitcher of the Year punctuated his senior season and draft prospects with an NCAA tournament performance to remember. He tossed complete-game victories over both Nebraska and Tulane, fanning seven Huskers and 10 members of the Green Wave. He's regarded as a finesse lefty with a good offspeed pitch.
Round 9: Zach Piccola, LHP, South Alabama
A big (6-4, 240-pound) left-hander, Piccola struggled as a junior statistically with a 4-4 record and 5.69 ERA in 18 appearances, 16 of them starts.
Round 10: Lauren Gagnier, RHP, Fullerton
Gagnier graduated from reliever to starter as a junior and went 13-4 with a 2.51 ERA for the Titans. He scattered 90 hits over 114 2/3 innings to go with 90 strikeouts.
Round 11: Russell Parrott, 2B, Desert Mountain (Ariz.) HS
The Tigers discovered Parrott at a predraft camp in Arizona, according to Chadd. He was one of the state's prep leaders in home runs.
Round 12: Joseph Bowen, C, Vanguard HS, Ocala, Fla.
Bowen played on former Tiger Chet Lemon's AAU team. Regarded as a solid catch-and-throw catcher by the Tigers with a chance to hit at the plate, he's committed to play baseball at Central Florida.
Round 13: Angel Castro, RHP, Western Oklahoma St.
A small right-hander at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, the junior college freshman and native Dominican ranked seventh in the NJCAA with a 1.37 ERA. He scattered 36 hits over 65 1/3 innings and struck out 90 batters to go with a 9-1 record.
Round 14: Brett Jensen, RHP, Nebraska
A lanky reliever at 6-foot-7 and 190 pounds, the senior closer went 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA and 13 saves in 27 appearances. He struck out 41 batters in 45 2/3 innings while allowing a .178 batting average.
Round 15: Franco Valdes, C, Monsignor Edward Pace HS, Miami
A member of Team USA's youth national team, Valdes hit .432 as a junior in 2005 on a Pace squad that has players all over Florida's top prospects list on Baseball America. His Team USA bio lists Ivan Rodriguez as one of the players he admires. He has committed to play college ball at Florida International.
Round 16: Jeffrey Gerbe, RHP, Michigan State
The Shelby Township native went 4-7 with a 5.38 ERA for the Spartans this spring, tossing complete games in five out of 13 starts. He throws his fastball in the low 90s while mixing in a slider.
Round 17: Ben Petralli, C, Sacramento (Calif.) CC
Not only is he the son of former Major Leaguer Geno Petralli, but he was also a Tigers draft pick last year, going in the 15th round before deciding to remain at Sacramento.
Round 18: Deik Scram, CF, Oklahoma State
Scram hit .363 for the Cowboys with 13 doubles, seven triples, six homers and 35 RBIs. Baseball America ranked him as the 19th best player in the state.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.