TigsTown MLN: Draft Notebook

Earlier this year, the Tigers named Tim Grieve as their Scout of the Year, and it appears that David Chadd will be relying on him to help make another key pick for the club. Grieve covers the vast state of Texas, and with less than two weeks to go before the draft, it appears that the Tigers are focusing on two Texans with their first-round selection.

Those two possibilites are left-hander Clayton Kershaw from Highland Park High School in Dallas, and center fielder Drew Stubbs from the University of Texas.

The Tigers have also been mentioned as a possible suitor for Matt Antonelli, a third baseman at Wake Forest, but he would be a huge reach for the Tigers at the sixth spot, and might be a backup plan in case the Tigers try to cut a pre-draft deal and save a little more money.

After missing three weeks with a strained oblique muscle, Kershaw returned to the mound in grand style, as he struck out all 15 batters in a five-inning perfect game that allowed his school to advance in the state playoffs last weekend. Kershaw has two above-average pitches in his fastball and curveball, and has a good changeup for his age.

Stubbs would not have been eligible for the draft had Astros owner Drayton McLane not nixed a $900,000 bonus the team had set to give Stubbs as a third-round pick back in 2003. Stubbs is a terrific athlete and could be a Gold-Glove caliber center fielder in the majors. The question mark with Stubbs has always been his inability to make consistent contact at the plate, but he has 30/30 potential if it all comes together.

Like Stubbs, Antonelli is a great athlete and is a solid defender at third base, but even though his power has surged this spring, he doesn't have enough power to stay there for most scouts. Antonelli would fit better at second base and is considered one of the safer bets in the draft to reach his ceiling.

DRAFT-AND-FOLLOW UPDATE
Eric Fry continues to have a terrific freshman season at San Jacinto, hitting .341 with 11 homers and 62 RBIs. Fry also has swiped 18 bases in 19 attempts, but the Tigers will have to work very fast to get him signed. The Gators will be competing in the JUCO World Series, which gets underway this weekend in Colorado. The Tigers own Fry's rights until Monday night, so the Tigers could have as little as 24 hours to sign him, should the Gators be eliminated on Sunday. If the Gators win, they would play past the start of the closed period, but teams are given a 48-hour window (or less, depending on the situation) to sign players past the closed period.

The Tigers will also have to work quick to sign Michigan's Jeff Kunkel and Clemson's Adrian Casanova, as both teams are in good shape to make the NCAA Tournament. Should both teams be eliminated on the first weekend of NCAA play, the Tigers could sign both, but they also could lose both if they make the super regionals, which are held after the draft takes place.

Kevin Hammon didn't have the prettiest outing, as he gave up eight hits and seven runs (six earned), but he went the distance and struck out 10 batters in pitching Sierra College to the Final Four of the California JUCO playoffs on Tuesday. The right-hander has won 11 games this spring, and the Tigers will have to work quickly to sign him as well, should the interest be there.


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