The Tigers selected their first prep player in the seventh round in right-hander Chris Carpenter from Bryan HS in Ohio. Carpenter was considered a very tough sign, as his parents are both teachers and wanted him to honor his commitment to Kent State.
The pick would prove to be a wasted one for Detroit, as Carpenter had zero interest in signing and took his 88-92 fastball and hard slider to college. Carpenter struggled mightily as a freshman, allowing 84 hits in 49 1/3 innings and posting a 7.66 ERA in 12 appearances, but he has plenty of time to develop into a high selection for the 2007 draft.
The Tigers took their first left-handed pitcher of the draft when they selected prep star Luke French from Heritage HS in Colorado. Despite being a top two-way talent, the Tigers liked him better on the mound thanks to a solid three-pitch repertoire. He sits in the 88-92 range with his heater and also has a slider and a changeup.
He carved up the GCL in his debut, recording a 2.74 ERA in 49 1/3 innings and he also fanned 49 batters. French bounced around in 2005, pitching for three different affiliates, where he made 12 starts between the GCL, West Michigan, and Lakeland. He had a 5.45 ERA in 68 innings and struck out 50 batters. He should be in the mix for a rotation spot at West Michigan.
The trend of high school selections continued in the ninth round with outfielder Brandon Timm from Broken Arrow HS in Oklahoma. After turning down Oklahoma State to sign, Timm struggled at the plate, hitting just .232 in 125 at-bats for the GCL Tigers. His offense perked up a little bit in '05, as he hit .260 with 14 RBI and nine stolen bases at Oneonta.
Timm has a solid eye at the plate, but he has yet to show any power. Timm is athletic and could nail down a spot on West Michigan's roster next season.
The Tigers made it four straight prep picks with the selection of third baseman Cory Middleton of Escambia HS in Florida. A shortstop in high school, Middleton made the move to third as a pro.
Middleton hit just .234 in his debut, but he smacked four homers, which tied him for second on the GCL club. Middleton's average improved only slightly in 2005, as he hit just .247, but his power began to emerge, as he clubbed seven home runs (tied for second on team) and drove in 52 runs (also good for second on the team).
Defensively, Middleton is very athletic and has the tools to be a solid third baseman in time. Middleton heads into 2006 as a nice sleeper prospect to keep an eye on, although it will be interesting to see how he fares at West Michigan next year.
Jason Avery covers the draft and all amateur baseball topics for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Jason@TigsTown.com.