The one pre-draft rumor that did come true, in favor of the Tigers, was Cameron Maybin falling from the top of the draft for two reasons. The first being his rumored high bonus demands and the second being other team's needs for polished collegiate players. When the picks fell, Maybin was left standing at number ten, waiting for the Tigers to select him. The prep stud was widely considered one of the top three talents in the entire draft, and his availability at the tenth pick was quite a coup for the organization.
Maybin combines incredible tools across the board, with a genuine love of the game, and a desire to be the best. Cameron's complete package of skills is often thought to have the ceiling of Ken Griffey, Jr. or Vladimir Guerrero. A player with Maybin's skill-set is something the Tiger's minor league system has lacked for decades, and his addition will be a welcome one.
Due to the signing of closer Troy Percival, the Tigers did not have a pick in the second round of this year's draft, having to instead wait until the third round (90th overall) to make their next selection. With that choice, Detroit selected University of Illinois catcher Christopher Robinson. In Robinson's three years with the Illini, he posted a .347/.415/.529 line, while displaying above average defensive skills. Director of Scouting, David Chadd, compared Christopher to a Brad Ausmus type player, with more offensive potential. A relatively polished player, Robinson could move quickly through the Detroit system.
With their next selection, the Tigers took another collegiate player (you should be noticing a trend here soon), Texas A&M reliever Kevin Whelan. Whelan combines an above-average fastball with a nasty, biting splitter and a bulldog mentality to aggressively challenge hitters. If Whelan can master his control, he could fly through the system, seeing time in Detroit in short order.
Continuing with their trend of drafting college players, the Tigers took first base stud Jeff Larish from Arizona State University in the 5th round. Larish turned down a six figure contract last year, and will likely demand a substantial contract to sign, despite little leverage as a college senior. While at ASU, Larish was consistently one of the nations top power threats, pounding 47 homeruns in 215 games, with a .333/.460/.585 line.
The Tigers' next two selections, outfielder Michael ‘Clete' Thomas (Auburn) and right-hander Patrick Finigan (Southern Illinois), both have the tools to be solid pros. Thomas is a player that has never really achieved his potential, but the Tigers hope he could break out sometime soon. If he signs, rather than returning to Auburn for his senior year, Thomas will likely be groomed as a centerfielder with plus speed, patience at the plate, and surprising power.
Finigan is a raw pitcher who has continued to improve as he has matured. As a former shortstop, Finigan is a very good athlete who fields his position well, and has learned to repeat his mechanics with ease.
In the 8th round, the Tigers turned to the junior college ranks, plucking Aussie Brendan Wise from Pratt Community College. Wise displays an average, but developing fastball, with a dominant, late-breaking curve, and a solid change-up. Brendan's arsenal is still a work in progress, but progress has been rapid to this point, and the Tigers feel he could develop quickly. There is a chance, Wise transfers to a 4-year school to continue his collegiate career, but with the right amount of bonus money, the Tigers could probably convince him to join the professional ranks.
The 9th and 10th rounds netted Detroit two polished college pitchers (have you caught on to the trend yet?). Pepperdine's Paul Coleman, and Louisiana-Lafayette's Kevin Ardoin come to the Tigers system as rather developed college starters, who Detroit hopes can move quickly up the ladder. Look for the Tigers to be careful with Ardoin this summer as he has already logged nearly 350 innings over the last four years.
In the 12th and 14th rounds, the Tigers came across two small school outfielders, Matt Joyce (Florida Southern) and Casper Wells (Towson State). Joyce impressed the Tiger brass with his performance against them during the annual spring training game between the Tigers and Florida Southern. Matt is a patient hitter who puts natural loft on the ball, and should develop more power as he matures. Despite just completing his junior year, Wells is a well-developed player with plus power and very good command of the strike zone. Both Joyce and Wells could prove to be fast moving corner outfielders due to their exceptional work ethics and enjoyment of the game.
The Tigers drafted teammates Louis Ott and Ben Petralli out of Sacramento Community College in the 13th and 15th rounds. Both players are likely to fall into the draft, follow, and evaluate category, allowing the team more time to assess their skills before bringing them on board. Both Petralli and Ott have the raw tools to be very good professional players, and will be intriguing players to follow over the next year.
In the 16th round, the Tigers selected Oral Roberts graduate Michael Hollimon. Hollimon started at shortstop for three years for University of Texas, before transferring prior to the 2005 season. In his one season at Oral Roberts, Michael posted some extremely impressive numbers (.304/.422/.578), finally fulfilling some of the offensive potential he displayed while in high school. As a senior draft choice, Hollimon will likely sign quickly, and should adjust quickly to professional pitching.
With their final two selections on the first day of the draft, the Tigers took two second baseman, Vanderbilt's Warner Jones, and Baton Rouge CC's Agustin Guzman. Jones suffered through a down year in 2005, raising the likelihood that he heads back to Vandy for his senior campaign, hoping to raise his draft stock. After posting a .400+ batting average during his sophomore season, Warner dropped to a .290/.310/.420 line this past spring. With comparisons to former Twins second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, Jones has the potential to be an impact middle infielder. Convincing him to join the Tigers organization would be a huge boost to the quality of this draft class.
In the 18th round, Agustin Guzman, a 17-year old junior college freshman, became one of the Tigers big sleepers of the first day. Guzman's numbers at Baton Rouge were outstanding, and as a likely DFE candidate, Guzman could be a significant signing for an organization in dire need of impact players.
If you haven't figured it out already, the Tigers focused almost solely on college players during the first day of the draft. After taking one of the top prep players of the last few years in Cameron Maybin, the Tigers targeted polished college players who could move quickly to provide depth in the minor leagues' upper reaches. For an organization with few legitimate prospects above A-ball, targeting college talent was likely a wise move, and with that goal in mind, the first day of the 2005 draft was quite a success.