TigsTown MLN: Draft Notebook

Andrew Miller is the star of the '06 draft class, but he'll be participating in the College World Series, so he won't even begin negotiations on a deal until his season is complete. On the other hand, 18 players have already inked deals with the club. Plus, who was a surprise sign, and who will still be tough to bring into the fold.

There was certainly a little irony when the Tigers selected Andrew Miller with the sixth pick in last Tuesday's draft. Three years ago, the Tigers held the third pick overall, and Miller was on the Tigers' original short list for candidates for that spot, but he had some struggles with his mechanics and with a price tag of three million dollars, Miller fell to Tampa Bay in the third round, but of course Miller went to North Carolina, and the rest is history.

In his first two drafts, David Chadd has certainly had a flavor for college players from four-year schools. Out of 100 total selections, 56 have been college players, while the Tigers have selected just 23 high school players and 21 from the junior college ranks. Even more interesting is that Chadd has tabbed just four high school players on the first day of the draft in his first two years, with Cameron Maybin being the lone pick in the first 10 rounds.

What makes these numbers even more remarkable is that prior to heading to Boston, Chadd was one of the most tools-oriented scouts you would find, which usually means the selection of more high school players. In fact, Chadd selected high school players with each of his first eight selections as the scouting director for the Red Sox back in 2002, but once Theo Epstein took over as the general manager, the Red Sox went with a more conservative approach to the draft, and with the heavy emphasis on college players in his first two drafts with Detroit, it would appear that Chadd has done a complete reversal from his approach when he was with Florida.

It will be interesting to see if this trend holds up, especially with the Tigers set to pick at the end of the first round (provided they don't forfeit picks in free agency, or if the draft rules don't change in the new CBA) in 2007.

The Tigers released a list of 18 players who had signed contracts on Tuesday, and a few really caught my eye. The first was Deik Scram (18), who will take his smooth swing to the pros, even though a strong senior campaign at Oklahoma State could've improved his stock by several rounds. Duane Below was taken one round later and had a commitment to Central Michigan, but will take his 87-89 fastball and breaking ball to the Tigers.

Two other names stood out from the early signees. Chris Carlson (29) could've been draft-and-followed as a fifth-year senior next spring, but he will take his power bat to the pro ranks. Alec Shepherd (47) is the biggest surprise, because he had a chance to play at Northern Colorado, and players that are drafted that late are almost automatic when fulfilling their commitments, but Shepherd will take his moving fastball that reaches 93 to the Tigers.

The rest of the players are LHP Chris Cody (8), 2B Hayden Parrott (11), C Joe Bowen (12), RHP Angel Castro (13), RHP Brett Jensen (14), RHP Jeff Gerbe (16), LHP Duane Below (19), RHP Chris Krawczyk (22), CF Joe Tucker (24), RHP Derek Witt (28), CF Michael Sullivan (31), RHP Rudy Darrow (32), LHP Paul Hammond (35), RHP Dana Arrowood (38), and 3B Michael Bertram (39).

Despite making big runs at several players, the Tigers lost 11 players to college in last year's draft, and that number should come down a little bit this year.

The Tigers should land their first 14 selections, and will try to make a strong push for Franco Valdes (15) to attend junior college instead of Florida International. Casey Weathers (25) has already made a strong indication that he wants to get his degree from Vanderbilt, and even though Weathers is raw on the mound and thrown just 23 innings, I expect the right-hander to return to the Commodores.

Kevin Chapman (43) of the Westminster Academy in Florida struggled with elbow tendonitis this spring, and should become a solid prospect in 2009 as a member of the Florida Gators. The last prospect that the Tigers will have really not have much of a chance to land is Alan Oaks (50) from Divine Child (Mi.) High School. Oaks has committed to Michigan, and he should be an impact two-way player as a freshman.

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