The Tigers started the day by taking one of the draft's most interesting wild cards in Cale Iorg from Alabama in the sixth round. Iorg had a terrific freshman season for the Crimson Tide, but took the last two years off to go on a Mormon mission. He is due back in July, and the Tigers will have about a month to try and work out a contract. Iorg still remains as a sophomore eligible, and it will be interesting to see what happens should he sign, as he'll have two years of rust to shake off.
For the third straight year, the Tigers selected a senior in the first 10 rounds when they took Brown catcher Devin Thomas, who was the Ivy League Player of the Year in the seventh round. He is a switch hitter with power from both side of the plate. He is very athletic and has 6.75/60 speed, which you rarely see in catchers. He'll need to sharpen up his defense, but Thomas figures to be better than most senior signs.
The Tigers continued to build their left-handed pitching reserves by selecting Manny Miguelez from Miami (Fla.) in the eighth round. Miguelez is still finding his way on the mound after three seasons with the Hurricanes, but he has good upside. He can run his fastball up to 94 with a curveball and a changeup that will need some work, but have plenty of promise. Miguelez is a good student, so there is the possibility of him returning to school, but if he signs, he'll be one to keep a close eye on.
Justin Henry has been a catalyst atop Mississippi's batting order with his younger brother Jordan. Henry might be the most versatile player the Tigers drafted, in that he can play all three outfield spots, plus first base, second base, and third base. He has great speed, and has been clocked in four seconds down the line out of the left side of the box. Even though he is 6-foot-3, he is a line-drive hitter with little power, and profiles as a super utility man.
The Tigers' selection in the 10th round will be one that is familiar to those that follow the draft closely. Three years ago, the Tigers took Dominic De la Osa as a 49th-round afterthought out of high school, and after a breakout junior season at Vanderbilt, the Tigers drafted him for a second time.
De la Osa worked exceptionally hard on adding strength, and it paid of handsomely with a surge in power and improved bat speed. His other tools are also intriguing. He is an above-average runner with great arm strength and plus raw power. Defensively, he has played shortstop, as well as the outfield, and could wind up at second base. He is a streaky hitter and needs to make more consistent contact at the plate, but he has a high ceiling. De la Osa has a strong commitment to return to the Commodores, which led a consensus third-rounder fall to the 10th, and the Tigers hope this won't have the same ending as Casey Weathers' last year.
Every team likes to save money by drafting seniors to fill out short-season rosters, and the Tigers drafted eight of them. After Thomas, Mark Brackman from William Jewell College in Missouri was taken in the 16th round. He is a big right-hander at 6-foot-7, and has a good sinking fastball that reaches 93. He also throws a slider that he has good command and a changeup that needs work. He is very athletic for his size and repeats his delivery well.
Tigers Scouting Director David Chadd attended Wichita State, and the Tigers drafted a fellow Shocker in right-hander Noah Krol in the 17th round. Krol is still raw on the mound due to being a shortstop as well, but he commands un upper-80s fastball with a hard slider. He profiles as a reliever as a pro.
The Tigers dipped into their own backyard with the selection of Michigan's Andrew Hess in the 19th round. The right-hander has a good three-pitch mix and still has a projectable frame after four years of college.
The Tigers have mined Oral Roberts for several draftees over the years, and they added another with right-hander Erik Crichton. He may be only 5-foot-10, but he can reach 93 with his heater and his slider is a go-to pitch for him. He also will be a relief pitcher at the next level.
UNC Charlotte's Kris Rochelle and Oklahoma City's Brandon Harrigan were a pair of catchers the Tigers nabbed in the 22nd and 23rd rounds respectively. Rochelle doesn't have a standout tool, but is solid in all phases. He is solid defensively and knows how to handle a pitching staff. He is a patient hitter and uses the whole field. Harrigan had a great junior year by hitting .405 with 11 homers and 68 RBIs, but slumped in his senior year. He hit .284 with seven homers and 32 RBIs.
The final senior the Tigers tabbed was Pittsburgh right-hander Paul Nardozzi in the 31st round. Nardozzi leaves the Panthers as the school record holder for strikeouts with 260, although he racked up 160 of those in 168 1/3 innings he logged as an upperclassman.
Four other college players taken still have one year eligibility remaining. Minnesota's Gary Perinar was taken in the 11th round. Perinar was put into a starting role for the Golden Gophers and struggled with a 5.10 ERA, but he was very effective as a reliever as a sophomore. He has a max-effort delivery that suits him better in the bullpen and he has been clocked up to 96 with his fastball. Perinar also throws a slider with hard bite.
There is an old saying that big things come in small packages. That is Oklahoma City's Kody Kaiser (15th round) in a nutshell. Although he stands just 5-foot-8, Kaiser has a outstanding package of tools. He has power from both sides of the plate and has 6.6/60 speed. He has played second base in the past, and some scouts think he may be there as a pro, but he also played in the outfield. Kaiser has experience in going through the draft process, as he was selected for the third time after turning down the Dodgers as draft-eligible sophomore last year.
One of the more interesting late-round selections was Steve Susdorf, a first baseman/outfielder from Fresno State, who went in the 27th round. Susdorf has been a terrific offensive player for the Bulldogs with a .340 average to go with 12 homers and 68 RBIs. He is a pure hitter with gap power and is an average runner and defender.
The final junior selected was Michigan State left-hander Jon Kibler, who went in the 30th round. Kibler transferred in from a Maryland junior college and struggled with his velocity, sitting just 84-86 for most of the year. However, his velocity was creeping upwards towards the end of the season, and his slider and changeup both have good potential.
Of this group, Susdorf and Kibler will be the most difficult signs, as they can easily improve their draft standing with good senior seasons, and on top of that, Susdorf is a civil engineering major and very strong academically. Kaiser is already 22, so he is older than most juniors and should be ready to start his pro career.