The Tigers' 2007 draft will be defined by the overwhelming number of power pitchers they signed. First-rounder Rick Porcello is certainly the crown jewel with a fastball that has been clocked at 98, but fellow right-handers Brandon Hamilton (96), Luke Putkonen (95), Gary Perinar (96) also can dial high-end velocity when needed. Late-round signees Sean Finefrock (35) and Richard Zumaya (43) also could be power pitchers in time with their projectable frames. The Tigers also added some much-needed left-handed pitching with the signings of five southpaws.
Charlie Furbush (4) and Casey Crosby (5) have power arms that have topped out at 94, and the former has made an immediate impact with West Michigan by going 3-0 with a 1.30 ERA in five appearances. Manny Miguelez (8) and Matt Hoffman (26) reside in the low-90s, and although Jon Kibler (30) doesn't throw as hard as the other lefties the Tigers inked, he dominated the Texas Collegiate League before signing in July.
With Carlos Guillen getting older, and Tony Giarratano and Brent Dlugach both having suffered season-ending injuries, the Tigers were at a crossroads with potential long-term prospects at shortstop, but they quelled those concerns for the time being with the signings of Danny Worth (2) and Cale Iorg (6). The Tigers challenged Worth by assigning him to Lakeland, and after a slow start, Worth has bounced back nicely and is hitting .270 with 14 RBIs and five stolen bases in 35 games.
Having not played a game in two years since leaving Alabama to go on a Mormon mission, Iorg was a surprise selection in the sixth round, and despite having only one month to get himself back into shape, Iorg impressed the Tigers' brass enough to get a whopping 1.5 million-dollar bonus, a record for the round that stood for only hours after the Nationals signed Jack McGeary for 1.8 million moments before the deadline passed.
Iorg is solid in all phases of the game, and had he gone to Arizona State, he could've been a first-round pick in next year's draft. The Tigers also added more depth at second base with Justin Henry (9), who is hitting .345 with Oneonta. Kody Kaiser (15) also profiles at second base as well as in the outfield.
GREAT TALENT LEFT ON TABLE
For the third consecutive year, the Tigers failed to signed a Vanderbilt junior when Dominic De la Osa (10) returned to the Commodores, although a horrid summer in the Cape Cod League made the Tigers' decision easier. Although the Tigers had a great deal of interest in left-hander Chris Hernandez (14), they were unable to sign him, and he will attend Miami (Fla.).
Three other power arms the Tigers failed to meet were Kevin Rhoderick (18), Kyle Brule (21) and Barret Loux (24). The most surprising of the trio not to sign was Loux, who turned down a substantial offer to attend Texas A&M. The projectable right-hander had reached 95 during the summer after missing time during the spring with a shoulder strain.
Rhoderick had a high price tag, but after signing with Georgia, he decided last month that he wanted out of his commitment. The Bulldogs granted his release and after being a candidate to head either to USC and Arizona State, he signed with Oregon State.
The Tigers kept tabs on Brule during the summer, but despite having a small price tag and pitching well in front of a Tigers crosschecker, the club was unable to get a deal done and he is attending Arizona State.
Simply put, the Tigers needed to add blue-chip prospects, and they did so, particularly on the pitching front. However, this draft showed that the Tigers have turned over a new leaf with the draft.
After years of conservative drafts, the Tigers were very aggressive in drafting tough signs, and they wound up landing Londell Taylor (13) and Hoffman with six-figure bonuses, as well as the aforementioned offer to Loux. This draft should go a long ways towards adding great pitching depth, and should the Tigers get extra choices for Sean Casey, Kenny Rogers, and Todd Jones, they could be primed to have a bigger draft next year.