#1 - Kyle Sleeth

The 2003 amateur draft featured a pair of stud position players; OF Delmon Young and 2B Rickie Weeks. The Tigers, with their luck of course, held the third pick in the draft. However, all was not lost, as the Tigers selected a polished college pitcher projected to move very fast through the system; RHP Kyle Sleeth.

Kyle Sleeth was the Tigers first pick (3rd overall) in the 2003 amateur draft. Sleeth, a right-hander, was drafted out of Wake Forest. The 22-year old Sleeth is originally from Westminster, Colorado. Sleeth, as is typical with most high selections, has an excellent frame at 6' 5", 205 lbs. Not to mention the fact that he was also one of the most dominant pitchers throughout his college career – he didn't lose a game in his entire 2002 season.

After a college season in which Sleeth went 7-3 with a 2.81 ERA, Sleeth sat out the rest of the year as a professional. The Tigers, who have been burned many times in the past by pitchers who hit injury problems (very possibly from overuse), are being overly cautious with their newest prize, and elected to sit him out and let him rest before setting him loose on competition in 2004.

Sleeth doesn't look to be an all-world type pitcher, but projects to be a very good one none-the-less. In most ways, he looks to be a prototypical #2 starter; not quite the bulldog that sits at the top of the rotation and takes the ball every big game, but the steady performer that can always turn in solid performances.

Sleeth uses a fastball that sits in the mid-90's as well as three other pitches that are all considered major league caliber. Sleeth possesses a solid curveball, as well as a hard slider with good bite on it. The slider, with some work, could become an excellent ‘out-pitch' for Sleeth. Sleeth also has a change-up that he can use occasionally to keep hitters off balance (especially with the speed he has on his fastball), but that typically isn't a pitch he'll use often.

Sleeth is starting the 2004 season with high-A Lakeland. The Tigers felt no need to push him hard early on, so they'll let him stay in Lakeland as long as he needs to get comfortable in the professional setting. However, don't expect Sleeth to stick around in Lakeland for the entire season. He may only be in A-ball right now, but he has the talent and experience to move quickly through the system, potentially quick enough to receive a September call-up this fall and make his major league debut.

RHP Joel Zumaya has the highest ceiling of any of the Tiger minor league pitchers, but Sleeth is easily the one with the best chance of becoming a successful major league pitcher. He's a polished pitcher with good upside that should be able to move quickly through the system – there's obviously a reason he was selected so high. No one in the organization wants to put undue pressure on any youngsters, but many are optimistic that Sleeth will team with RHP Jeremy Bonderman to form an excellent duo at the top of the rotation for many years to come.

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