2005 Draft Preview: The Hitters

The Tigers scored a fair number of runs last year, and they are doing it again this year, but that never means they should not look at hitters in the draft. Having spent their last two first round choices on pitchers (Kyle Sleeth and Justin Verlander), it is possible the Tigers could decide to draft that high impact bat they have lacked for so long. In the first of a two-part draft preview, let's take a look at the top hitters available in the 2005 draft.

At the top of the draft, there are those players who will most certainly not be there when the Tigers select at number ten. Players like Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, Ryan Zimmerman, and Troy Tulowitzki, are unlikely to be available past the first few choices.

Upton and Gordon are widely considered the top two talents available, both five-tool players with immense potential, and both are expected to move quickly through their new systems.

Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and Long Beach State shortstop Troy Tulowitzki could both fall to later in the top ten picks, but many outlets envision them going much higher. Zimmerman is a future Gold Glover at the hot corner, who has the potential to become a very good offensive player, and Tulowitzki draws high praise and comparisons to his predecessor, Oakland A's shortstop Bobby Crosby.

While the players mentioned above may not be available at the time the Tigers draft in the first round, there are still many hitters who are worthy of consideration at the tenth position. Recent rumblings have indicated that prep outfielder Cameron Maybin could fall come draft day. Maybin is considered one of the drafts most polished high school talents, and one of the best all around athletes available this year, but with the wealth of high-end collegiate players, he could be falling.

Two other high school outfielders who are likely to be available are West Brook High School's Jay Bruce, and Fort Meade High School's Andrew McCutchen. Both McCutchen and Bruce possess speed, raw power, great instincts, and very good work ethics, but are likely farther away from the big leagues than some of the other top high school talents.

Two of the top power bats, Jeff Clement (C, USC) and Ryan Braun (3B, Miami), could fall anywhere from the top five to late in the first round, depending on what some teams do at the top. Both Clement and Braun are patient hitters, with the tools to be prototypical sluggers at the Major League level. Although teams very rarely draft for need in baseball, it is possible the Tigers could seriously consider Clement at number ten, hoping that he develops quickly and becomes the successor to Ivan Rodriguez after the 2007 season.

Rounding out the likely candidates for the tenth choice are two more collegiate hitters with very different pedigrees. Stanford first baseman John Mayberry, Jr. is a scout's dream, with a prototypical power body, and all the tools to be a complete offensive player, but his performance hasn't matched the hype at this point. Mayberry could be long gone by the time Detroit's turn comes to be, or he could fall to the end of the first round; he is currently one of the toughest players to peg in the top of the draft.

Offsetting Mayberry's tools hype, Arizona outfielder Trevor Crowe is a bit of a "stat heads" dream. At only 5-10, Crowe commands the strike-zone well, has surprising power, and is one of the fastest collegians in the draft. Despite his small stature, Crowe has been the top Division I hitter in 2005, and has been talked about as a potential top ten pick if a team decides to draft for signability, rather than pure talent.

With an abundance of impact hitters, both collegiate and high school, available in this year's draft, new Director of Scouting, David Chadd, has his work cut out for him. With Dave Dombrowski's well publicized penchant for drafting power pitchers early in the draft, the Tigers may opt to hold off on stockpiling offense until the later rounds. The 2005 draft looks to be one of the deepest in recent years, and the Tigers could benefit by further heightening their increasing minor league depth.

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