The Tigers have 11 players under control for next year, and several of them have very intriguing tools and upsides.
Ben Petralli (15) is the son of former MLB catcher Geno Petralli, and is following in his dad's footsteps as a catcher at Sacramento City College. Ben is a switch hitter who played shortstop in high school, but moved behind the plate in college. He has made great strides since moving behind the plate, where his athleticism and plus arm stands out. At the plate, he makes solid, consistent contact, which has led to comparisons to Jason Kendall, although Petralli won't have the speed to match him.
Eric Fry (29) is an athletic outfielder who is attending San Jacinto JC in Texas. He was also a quarterback in high school, but has a bright future on the diamond if everything comes together. Fry is a multi-tooled player who makes hard, consistent contact with the bat and has the power potential to hit 25 homers. He has good speed, which will allow him to play in center field, but he will play right field as a freshman. His arm is also a plus tool. With an enticing package of speed and power, Fry will be a player to watch closely, as he should be a starter on one of the country's top teams next spring.
Jeff Kunkel (37) is back at Michigan, where the Tigers control his rights because he was a redshirt junior when the Tigers selected him. Kunkel is a line drive hitter who handles pitching staffs well and has a strong arm. The Tigers could lose his rights if Michigan reaches the NCAA Tournament and has a deep run, provided the draft isn't moved from its present dates.
Kiel Renfro (39) is the nephew of Tigers scout Dick Egan and is a sinker/slider pitcher who enjoyed a good summer with Lehigh in the Atlantic Collegiate League, going 2-4, with a 2.43 ERA in 33 1/3 innings. He held the opposition to a .182 average. Unfortunately, he also hurt his elbow and subsequently had Tommy John surgery and won't pitch next year. He is presently enrolled at Navarro JC.
Kyle Peter (40) is back at Cloud County CC in Kansas. A center fielder who is a terror on the basepaths, Peter swiped 37 bags in 40 attempts as a freshman and is also adept at getting on base, posting a .468 on-base percentage last spring. "He is similar to Juan Pierre, but is very raw offensively," said coach Greg Brummett. "He walks a lot, bunts well, and is pretty much a slap hitter. He is raw as a basestealer and will need a lot of refinement overall."
A sleeper to watch is Ryan Perry (43), who will play everyday as a freshman next spring at Sierra JC in California. Perry has been impressive in the fall and Team One Baseball had Perry ranked among its top 50 prospects in Northern California. He has raw power in his bat and has the arm and range to stay at shortstop. Perry is expected to see time at third base and the outfield, as well.
Like Kunkel, Adrian Casanova (44) is a redshirt junior who is back at Clemson. Casanova is strictly a defensive catcher, with little to offer with the bat. He hit .238 as a junior, and is a career .224 hitter.
Tyson Jaquez (45) is a member of the first team Western Nevada CC has ever fielded. Coach D.J. Whittemore said the third baseman has "good range, good hands, and a strong accurate arm. At the plate, he has a good feel for hitting and should be one of the top power hitters in the Scenic West Conference."
Tyler Mattox (46) is at Connors State in Oklahoma. He is a right-hander who has had a strong fall since transferring in from North Arkansas CC. Mattox has great life on his fastball that sits in the 87-91 range, and he also has a plus changeup. The Conner State staff had Mattox ditch his curveball for a cutter that at times has the action of a true slider. He also has an easy motion, a loose arm, and a projectable frame (6-4, 190) that should allow him to pickup velocity as he matures physically.
Albert Gonzalez (47) is a second baseman who is committed Broward CC in Florida, but is currently attending prep school to get his academics in order. At 5-foot-9 and 155 pounds, he is certainly a little guy, but he has an athletic frame, is solid defensively, and makes good contact with the bat.
Kevin Hammons (48) is making the move from shortstop to the mound. He redshirted at Sierra JC last year and has made good strides. He works in the high 80's-low 90's, and his breaking ball has developed into a solid offering, while his changeup is improving. His muscular frame suggests he should add velocity as he matures and gets more experience on the mound.
This concludes our look at the 2005 draft, but stay tuned as TigsTown will quickly begin to look into the 2006 amateur draft, and some of the top targets that will be available to the Tigers.