A little more than a year ago I took a look at the Tigers draft history to see if we could objectively measure the quality of the organization’s drafts during the Dombrowski era. It was a fun little exercise, but anyone can take a look at the past and judge. It takes a special kind of jerk to predict a future draft without any inside information, and I’d like to think I’m that jerk.
What follows is my attempt to predict the 2016 Tigers draft. It would be pretty simple if I were to just grab 38 names from a hat, but I’ve decided to make my certain failure in this endeavor even more frustrating by doing research and trying to science things up. I’ve taken a look at every Tigers draft since 2005, broken them down by school (high school, junior college, or college), position, state, and conference, and used that to determine the average Tigers draft.
Point of Origin
The Tigers have used their first pick in the draft on high-school players seven times in the last 11 years, but after that they typically take a very college-heavy approach. On average, they haven’t taken their second high-school player until the 13th round, and most of the high schoolers they draft are kids with very firm college commitments, players local to the Tigers, or players related to members of the organization. The Tigers don’t go the junior college route as much as they used to, and their first JuCo player typically comes off the board in round 12.
This table is pretty straightforward, and I imagine most teams break down their drafts in a similar fashion. There’s a roughly 50/50 split between pitchers and position players, about three right-handed pitchers for every southpaw, and more picks are used on up-the-middle talent than on corner players.
Most Common States
There’s nothing too surprising here. California, Texas, and Florida are all talent-rich states, and Michigan is up there because teams often draft a lot of players from their home state. Kansas is not traditionally considered a hotbed of baseball talent, but David Chadd, the head of Tigers amateur scouting since 2005, hails from Wichita. Chadd has now moved on to an Assistant GM position, but he figures to still be heavily involved in the draft. He was the reason I chose 2005 as the start point for this exercise (The Tigers had taken a total of 19 players from Kansas in the 40 drafts before Chadd joined the organization.) The other somewhat surprising state here is Arizona which...I can’t explain. It’s warm there, I guess.
Most Common Conferences
|Big 12||27||2||Texas (7)||1|
|ACC||27||2||Florida State (5)||3|
|Big 10||23||2||Michigan State (10)||3|
|Missouri Valley||19||2||Wichita State (8)||2|
|MAC||17||2||Central Michigan (4)||1|
|NAIA||15||1||Lewis & Clark (3)||1|
|PAC 12||13||1||Arizona State (4)||1|
|Big West||13||1||Cal State Fullerton (4)||1|
|Conference USA||13||1||Old Dominion (3)||0|
|Summit||5||Oral Roberts (5)||0|
This is another list that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone who has followed the Tigers drafts over the past decade. They love SEC players, and Vanderbilt in particular. And the relatively big numbers from Wichita State and Oral Roberts again indicate some of Chadd’s influence.
We now have a pretty clear picture of what the average Tigers draft looks like. Now all that’s left is to make one of my own. And here it is:
Scientific* 2016 Mock Draft
|1||9||Riley Pint||RHP||HS||Kansas||St. Thomas Aquinas|
|4||115||Connor Justus||SS||College||Georgia||ACC (Georgia Tech)|
|5||145||Shaun Anderson||RHP||College||Florida||SEC (Florida)|
|6||175||Henri Lartigue||C||College||Mississippi||SEC (Ole Miss)|
|7||205||Cam Vieaux||LHP||College||Michigan||Big 10 (MSU)|
|8||235||Joel Booker||OF||College||Iowa||Big 10 (Iowa)|
|9||265||Clate Schmidt||RHP||College||S. Carolina||ACC (Clemson)|
|10||295||Peter Bayer||RHP||College||California||Big West (Cal Poly)|
|11||325||Kyle Roberts||LHP||JuCo||Michigan||Henry Ford CC|
|12||355||Elliot Barzilli||3B||College||Texas||Big 12 (TCU)|
|13||385||Jason Delay||C||College||Tennessee||SEC (Vanderbilt)|
|14||415||Jordan Zimmerman||2B||College||Michigan||Big 10 (MSU)|
|15||445||Sam Tewes||RHP||College||Kansas||MVC (Wichita State)|
|16||475||Spencer Johnson||OF||College||Missouri||MVC (Missouri State)|
|17||505||Santiago Espinal||SS||JuCo||Florida||Miami-Dade JC|
|18||535||Brylie Ware||1B||JuCo||Kansas||Neosho County CC|
|19||565||John Sansone||2B||College||Florida||ACC (FSU)|
|20||595||Ryne Birk||2B||College||Texas||SEC (Texas A&M)|
|22||655||Bryson Bowman||OF||College||N. Carolina||Southern (W. Carolina)|
|23||685||Cody Nulph||SS||College||Alabama||SEC (Auburn)|
|24||715||Eric Filia||OF||College||California||Pac 12 (UCLA)|
|25||745||Parker Bugg||RHP||College||Louisiana||SEC (LSU)|
|26||775||David Gerber||RHP||College||Nebraska||Big East (Creighton)|
|27||805||Luke Bonfield||OF||College||Arkansas||SEC (Arkansas)|
|28||835||Angel Garced||2B||College||Florida||NAIA (Southeastern)|
|29||865||Gary Cornish||RHP||College||California||WCC (San Diego)|
|30||895||Johnny Zubek||C||College||Illinois||MAC (N. Illinois)|
|31||925||Tyler Fallwell||RHP||JuCo||Arizona||Cochise JC|
|33||985||Austin Shields||RHP||HS||Ontario||St. Mary Catholic|
|34||1015||Trey Benton||RHP||HS||N. Carolina||West Columbus|
|35||1045||Karl Kaufmann||RHP||HS||Michigan||Brother Rice|
|36||1075||Armani Smith||OF||HS||California||De La Salle|
|38||1135||Lucas Krull||LHP||HS||Kansas||Mill Valley|
|39||1165||Troy Bacon||RHP||JuCo||Florida||Santa Fe JC|
So there it is! A pointless exercise taken to the nth degree for reasons that are foreign to even me. But I think I’ve done a solid job here of crafting a representative Tigers draft. I fully expect to go 0-for-38 on this draft, so getting a single pick correct would be a pleasant surprise. Getting four or more picks correct would be one of the greatest victories in human history, and probably land me one of those cushy data journalism jobs you’re always hearing about. I hope I’ve fulfilled my promise of adding to the pile of nonsensical draft-related content. Now, go and enjoy the actual draft!
*Apologies to actual scientists