Staying with the football theme, the Tigers selected one of the top quarterback prospects in the country with the selection of Bo Flowers in the fifth round. Like Sovie and Clevlen, Flowers didn't sign until August, turning down Arizona State in the process. Flowers hit .278 in 97 at-bats with the GCL Tigers, picking up seven RBIs and eight steals in 26 games.
2003 was a lost season for Flowers, as he hit just .179 in 168 at-bats between Oneonta and the GCL. However, unlike Sovie, Flowers turned the corner in 2004, hitting .280 with four home runs and 26 RBIs in 66 games with Oneonta. Flowers also swiped 16 bases. Flowers was headed to West Michigan a season ago, but was sent to the Cubs as part of the Kyle Farnsworth trade.
Playing in his native Illinois, Flowers hit .238 with eight homers and 49 RBIs in 105 games for Peoria. He also added 10 steals, but struggled to make contact with 121 strikeouts (with just 19 walks) in only 365 at-bats. Flowers is still very raw and has a high ceiling, but if he doesn't make progress with the Cubs, he could return to football.
Chris Maples didn't become a two-way player at North Carolina until his junior year, but he made the most of the opportunity, hitting .347 with 22 homers and 68 RBIs as the third baseman for the Tar Heels, but in his first shot at pitching, he sat 91-93 with his fastball and showed a tight slider, giving area scouts a tough decision to make on his future. The Tigers took him in the sixth round and elected to keep him as a position player.
After signing, Maples got 17 at-bats with the GCL Tigers before heading to Oneonta, where he hit .200 in 115 at-bats. After hitting an icy .187 with West Michigan in 2003, there was some talk that Maples would move back to the mound, but his bat finally perked up in 2004 when he hit .271 with 17 homers and 73 RBIs. Maples came back to earth at Erie, hitting just .225 with 12 homers and 54 RBIs in 93 games in an injury-plagued campaign.
After a subpar year at Erie, the Tigers have a decision to make on Maples. Jack Hannahan is ahead of him at Toledo and Kody Kirkland is pushing him from behind, so something will have to give. Moving Maples to the mound isn't really practical at this stage given his age, so he may be headed to a platoon role in 2006.
In the seventh round, the Tigers went for a player with an enticing speed/power combo when they selected outfielder Wilton Reynolds from Oral Roberts. Reynolds got off to a hot start at Oneonta, but struggled mightily in the second half and finished with a .232 average. Reynolds did club nine homers and collected 57 RBIs to go with 10 steals. Strikeouts were an issue for Reynolds, who fanned 75 times in 272 at-bats.
Reynolds went to West Michigan in 2003, where his average improved to .267. He hit eight home runs and drove in 44 runs in 102 games. Reynolds labored through an injury-plagued 2004 season, hitting just .168 between West Michigan and Lakeland and was released prior to the 2005 season.
The Tigers went right back to Oral Roberts and selected right-hander Troy Pickford in the eighth round. At six-foot-eight, Pickford brought immense size for a pitcher and delivered a fastball that reached the low-90's and he also threw a solid slider. Pickford went 2-0 in four starts at Oneonta after signing, recording a 0.98 ERA.
The former Golden Eagle went to West Michigan in 2003 and made just 16 starts (5-7, 2.66 ERA) before succumbing to shoulder problems. Pickford worked six scoreless innings with the GCL Tigers in 2004, but could never regain the stuff he had that allowed him to be drafted twice and was released after the '04 season.
The Tigers selected their first prep pitcher in the ninth round with they tabbed left-hander Marcos Hernandez of Puerto Rico. Hernandez was clobbered in his pro debut, going 0-4 with 6.75 ERA in 11 games. That would be the highlight of his career, as he underwent Tommy John surgery that offseason, but never recovered and didn't throw another pitch in a Tigers uniform.
In the 10th round, the Tigers tabbed catcher Luke Carlin out of Northeastern. Carlin struggled after signing, hitting just .227 with 10 RBIs in 45 games at Oneonta. That would be his lone season in the Tigers organization as he, Jesse Carlson and Everett Hancock were all released because of a skit during spring training that Randy Ready, then the Oneonta manager thought insulted his wife and demanded that the threesome be let go. He got his wish and Ready himself would be fired a year later after reneging on his contract to assist in instructional league.
Carlin latched on with the Padres after his release and hit .257 with two homers and 25 RBIs for Double-A Mobile last year. Ironically, Ready now manages the Padres' Single-A affiliate at Fort Wayne.