With the death of the draft-and-follow process, the Tigers stayed away from the junior colleges and took only three players, with two selections coming late in the day. Sacramento City College outfielder Chris White (12th round) became the third player in three years to be taken by the Tigers to be taken from the school. He is a switch hitter who can really run and has great speed. He is a line-drive hitter, but doesn't offer much in the way of power. He has a good arm, and should get a chance to play center field. He has signed with Long Beach State, but is reportedly leaning towards signing with Detroit.
While scouting recent draft-and-follow signee Brandon Johnson, the Tigers got a look at 6-foot-6 right-hander Sean Finefrock (35) at Butler County Community College in Kansas. A Padres draft choice from a year ago, Finefrock didn't sign and works in the 90-91 range with his fastball to go with a good slider. His changeup is still in the development stages. If the Tigers don't sign him, he'll return to junior college for his sophomore season.
One round later, the Tigers stayed in Kansas and took Tanner Rindels out of Seward County Community College. Rindels had a terrific sophomore season by hitting .391 with 13 homers and 58 RBIs. He has signed with Texas Tech.
There were four players the Tigers drafted out of the high school ranks that have a decent shot of signing, and they took them consecutively in rounds 37-40. The first and most intriguing is local product Toby Matchulat from Redford Union. He is a right-hander with a long, lanky with a lot of projection. He sits in the 89-92 range with a 12-6 curveball, and is definitely a deep diamond in the rough. Left-hander Austin Woodard from Bishop Carroll Catholic in Kansas was the next to go. He is also projectable, but sits in the mid-80s. His arm works well and he has feel for his secondary pitches. He has signed with Butler County (Kn.) Community College.
Shortstop Jake Oberlechner from Arkansas City in Kansas was the next selection. He is more known for his prowess with the glove than the bat and is also contemplating attending junior college at Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa.
The final member of this quartet also has some intrigue. Outfielder D'Andrea Vaughn of Tavares (Fla.) is a multi-sport athlete who also was a football standout, just as current farmhand Justin Justice was, although Justice was a three-sport star. Understandably, he is raw but having solely focused on baseball, but has the raw tools to work with, and could be a project worth keeping an eye on should he sign. Vaughn hasn't committed to a college.
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Teams often draft prospects who have relatives working with their organization, and the Tigers drafted several players with ties to the team. Colin Kaline, the grandson of Hall of Famer Al Kaline, was taken in the 25th round. He is a second baseman out of Birmingham (MI) Groves High School and will attend Florida Southern, which is just blocks away from the Tigers' spring training base in Lakeland.
Wade Lamont, the son of coach Gene Lamont, went in the 29th round. He is from Flagler College (Fla.), and the Tigers took as a first baseman, despite that he played just one game there this year. He also pitched in college, and is expected to sign as a redshirt junior.
Also joining the organization is Shawn Roof (33rd round), who is the son of Gene Roof, a roving minor league instructor. A shortstop from Illinois, Roof set the single-season record for stolen bases with 40 in his senior campaign. Outfielder Kyle Peter (34th round), who is the nephew of Scouting Director David Chadd, was drafted for the third straight year by the Tigers. Rounding out the family drafts were right-handers Matt Robertson (Valley Central HS, KS.) and Richard Zumaya (Bonita Vista HS, Ca.), who are the brothers of Tigers pitchers Nate Robertson and Joel Zumaya. Only Lamont and Roof are expected to sign.
With the Tigers selecting Rick Porcello in the first round, and the uncertainty surrounding his negotiations, they made certain to have several insurance policies in case things don't work out with him.
The aforementioned Dominic De la Osa certainly falls in this group, as does left-hander Casey Crosby taken in the fifth round and sixth-rounder Cale Iorg. Nine others also fall in this category.
Londell Taylor (13th round) is a top football recruit at Oklahoma out of Vian High School, but also has plus raw baseball tools across the board. Taylor was originally considered an easy bet to go to the gridiron, but there are rumblings that the Tigers are going to make a huge run to sign him.
Monsignor Pace High School in Miami has always been one of the national powerhouses in the country, and left-hander Chris Hernandez (14th round) is the next outstanding prospect to emerge. He has an advanced on how to pitch and throws all four of his pitches for strikes. His velocity was mostly 86-87, but has touched the low-90s at times. He has a projectable frame, but he has a commitment to stay in Miami and pitch for the Hurricanes.
The Tigers took a pair of Arizona prep right-handers in Horizon's Kevin Rhoderick (18) and Marcos De Niza's Kyle Brule (21). Rhoderick is a teammate of Giants first-rounder Tim Alderson, and has similar stuff with a fastball that reaches 94 and rarely dips below 90. He has a nasty slider and a quick arm, but his size (6-foot-0) is a detriment in scouts' eyes. He turned down the Brewers' offer of $207,000 in the fourth round on Thursday, so it'll take a good chunk of change to sign the Georgia recruit. Brule pitched his team to a state championship and had draft helium going in after his velocity went into the 93-95 range after being down in the 80s most of the spring. He has a good slider and slow curve that needs refinement. He has signed with Arizona State.
Stratford (Texas) High School's (24th round) Barrett Loux never really had much of chance to show his stuff to scouts due to a sore shoulder, but when he was healthy, his fastball was topping at 93 with a sharp-breaking curveball. The right-hander also has feel for a changeup and he'll also cut and sink his fastball. Loux is a Texas A&M recruit, and may have gone in the first five rounds had he been healthy. Like Rhoderick, Owasso (Ok.) High School's Matt Hoffman (26th round) is a teammate of a first-rounder (Peter Kozma). Hoffman benefited from having scouts coming into see Kozma, and it certainly didn't hurt to throw a three-hit shutout in the state championship game (a 1-0 win).
The athletic left-hander peaks at 91-92 with his fastball and his changeup has plus potential. He has feel for his curveball and scouts compare his delivery and arm action to Andy Pettitte. He has signed with Oklahoma.
The lone collegian here is Tulane's Warren McFadden (28th round), who struggled in hitting at Zephyr Field, home of the AAA New Orleans Zephyrs. The Green Wave had to play their home games as their stadium continues to get rebuilt from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
McFadden has power with wood bats after being among the home run leaders in the Cape Cod League last summer. He still has plenty of refinement to do, and as a sophomore-eligible prospect, he'll be a longshot to sign.
The Tigers stayed in Louisiana and took Parkview Baptist left-hander Forrest Moore (32nd round), who draws comparisons to 2006 first-rounder Wade LeBlanc. His fastball touches 90 at times, but mostly sits in the 86-88 range. His curveball and changeup are solid offerings and he hides the ball well. The Mississippi State signee has reportedly floated a second-round price tag to sway him from college.
The final big name the Tigers took also has ties to Louisiana as one of Paul Mainieri's top recruits at LSU. D. J. LeMahieu (41st round) is a shortstop from Birmingham Brother Rice (Mi.) High School, who is all about projection presently. He has big power potential and could be a premium pick in three years, but teams backed off when it was clear he was looking for second-round money to sign.
The last pick of the day for the Tigers was also a player they will very likely lose to college in Berrien Springs (Mi.) High School right-hander Kolby Wood (44th round), who has signed with Michigan.
It was interesting to see the Tigers take some many guys that have signability issues. The Tigers M.O. in the past was not to be that aggressive in pursuing later round guys to sign, but that looks like it may be changing. By taking so many players with signability issues, the Tigers have more than covered themselves should things go awry and the Tigers lose Porcello to college, but if they sign Porcello and add several of these players (reportedly the Tigers have a deal in place for fifth-rounder Casey Crosby), this could be a draft bonanza for the Tigers. We have two months to find out if it comes to fruition.