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12/03/09 10:00 AM ET

Aggressive Tigers like early Draft returns

Detroit expecting big things from impressive '09 class

With the 2009 season and Arizona Fall League (where several 2009 draftees got their first taste of pro ball) in the books, we take a look at the early results of each club's '09 Draft class: how their top picks did; late-round picks that fared well; which picks are likely to move up the ladder quickest; and which picks clubs were unable to sign.

One thing is certain about the Tigers and their Draft philosophy in recent years: They don't shy away from a challenge.

Detroit has earned a reputation, and deservedly so, as one of those teams to look at when trying to figure out where a signability-issue player will slide in the first round. It was Andrew Miller in 2006, Rick Porcello in 2007 and, this past year, it was Jacob Turner.

And it's not just with that first-round selection that they throw caution to the wind and take the best available player. The Tigers showed a willingness to go over slot in the second and sixth rounds, in particular, in '09. If those gambles pay off, the top of this Draft class could be one they talk about in Detroit for a long time.

Top five picks

NL East

AL East

NL Central

AL Central

NL West

AL West

1. Jacob Turner, RHP: Depending on who was asked, Turner may have been the top high school arm in the class. He likely would have gone higher than No. 9 overall if it hadn't been for his bonus demands. The Tigers haven't shied away from such picks (see Porcello), so they took the plunge and got a deal done right up against the deadline. Turner signed too late to pitch during the season, so people will get to see what all the fuss is about in 2010.

2. Andrew Oliver, LHP: The Tigers went back-to-back with Scott Boras advisees and signed them both. Oliver, a lefty out of Oklahoma State, also signed right at the deadline, but he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to see where he stood against more advanced competition. The results -- a 2.81 ERA over 16 IP with a .217 batting average against and 16 K's -- say he stacks up pretty well.

3. Wade Gaynor, 3B: Gaynor showed an intriguing power-speed combination in his final year at Western Kentucky, but it wasn't on display much during his pro debut with Oneonta in the short-season New York-Penn League. The third baseman hit .192/.281/.282 in 67 games with eight steals in 11 attempts.

4. Edwin Gomez, SS: The first selection from Puerto Rico's Baseball Academy in the '09 Draft, Gomez struggled a bit in the Gulf Coast League, finishing with a .190/.233/.216 line in 45 games. He played shortstop in the GCL, but at 6-3, if he fills out, he may have to find a new defensive home.

5. Austin Wood, LHP: The Tigers didn't let the University of Texas reliever pitch much after signing in late July, not after that 13-inning, 169-pitch relief outing in the NCAA Regionals. He did pitch in a GCL game and then three more in the Florida State League. He tossed five scoreless for Lakeland in the FSL, walking none and striking out four.

Best of the rest

It took first-round money to land him, but the Tigers think sixth-round SS Daniel Fields, the son of Indians roving hitting coordinator Bruce, is worth it. He'll make his debut in 2010. ... C John Murrian (ninth round) was solid for Oneonta, hitting .296/.356/.468 in 54 games. LHP Adam Wilk (11th round) spent time with Oneonta and full-season West Michigan and went a combined 4-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 14 starts. In 73 2/3 IP, he allowed jsut 53 hits and walked only seven while striking out 67. He also won his lone playoff start in the Midwest League. ... Kenny Faulk, a 16th-rounder out of Kennesaw State, saved nine games and made the New York-Penn League All-Star team as a lefty reliever.

Fast Risers

As a senior reliever, and a strike-thrower, from a program like Texas, Wood should zip through Detroit's system. Fellow lefty Oliver, after getting a taste in the AFL, shouldn't take too long, either.


Despite not shying away from tough signs, the Tigers managed to come to terms with 21 of their first 24 selections, and 25 of the first 30. They didn't, however, sign anyone after the 30th round. Craig Fritsch was the first "miss" in the eighth round. He was a Draft-eligible sophomore whose stock dropped after a rough 2009 season, so he returned to Baylor for his junior year. RHP Mark Appel, taken in Round 15, couldn't be lured away from a strong Stanford commitment.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.