Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
At this point in time, I don't think this organization has reached a point where it can solely address one position of need because it's so strong everywhere else, but clearly, when examining both the Prospect Rankings and the Power Rankings, one thing becomes clear; this organization is still lacking competent hitters across the board, most notably at catcher and up the middle of the infield. Sure, the Tigers have some intriguing prospects there (like Michael Hollimon), but at his age he'll need to move quickly to avoid reaching the big leagues at 27. With the current strength of the pitching depth, it would be wise if the Tigers concentrated on these areas of need foremost in the early rounds of the draft (though it is still essential to grab the most talented player overall on your board in the first round). But in my opinion, it's clear: look up the middle come draft day.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
I'm going to cheat a little bit on this answer. I'm not so worried about filling certain positional needs with the upcoming draft, but rather filling certain qualities. Three things that are sorely lacking throughout the organization are power, patience, and high ceilings. Very few of our offensive players throughout the minor league system have pure power. We have a lot of players with power potential like Clevlen, Kirkland, Ramirez, Larish, etc., but none of those guys are prototypical power hitters. The Tigers need power, and more importantly, they need patience. The system is (and has been for a long time), full of hackers. It's almost like an organizational mandate that any draft selection must swing at anything and everything. At some point, the organization has to begin valuing some pitch recognition skills, and hopefully that time will come in this draft. Lastly, there needs to be an infusion of high ceiling players. The time has come and gone for the organization to try and quickly restock the system with polished, low ceiling guys. They need an influx of guys that have a chance to become stars, not just regulars and fringe Major Leaguers. These aren't positions of need, but rather skills and qualities of need; and they must be addressed soon!
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
Without question, the Tigers badly need to get help in the catching department. Even though the Tigers burned a thrid-round pick on Chris Robinson last year, and Dusty Ryan is off to a great start at West Michigan, the Tigers still need a lot of help in this area. However, I don't see that help coming this year, due to the fact that this crop of catchers isn't very good overall. The Tigers could stun a lot of observers and draft Hank Conger out of Huntington Beach (Ca.) HS with their first-round pick. Conger has improved his defense, and has terrific power from both sides of the plate, but he would be an overdraft at the sixth spot. Chad Tracy of Pepperdine and Max Sapp from Bishop Moore (Fla.) HS likely will be gone when the Tigers pick in the second round, while Florida's Brian Jeroloman has been awful with the bat this spring. Torre Langley from Alexander (Ga.) HS has added some power this spring to go with his solid defensive skills, but he is commited to Georgia Tech, and it is very difficult to sign players away from the Yellow Jackets. If the Tigers get any help here this year, it will likely come from Michigan's Jeff Kunkel, whom the Tigers control and should make a run at provided Michigan's season ends before the draft. Unless a good prospect falls into their laps, the Tigers have no business taking a flier on a catcher, and leave a better prospect on the board. We've been there and done that too many times.
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