Simply put, this was an awful draft, and easily Greg Smith's worst effort as the Tigers' scouting director. The overall draft crop wasn't very good, but the Tigers did absolutely nothing. Arm problems cut short Matt Wheatland's (1) career, and Chad Petty (2) was used to acquire Alex Sanchez. Petty himself was out of baseball at 23 after pitching for two independent league teams in 2005. Nook Logan (3) and Mark Woodyard (4) are the only big leaguers to date from this draft, although Jeremy Johnson (11) could either make it with the Tigers or another team pending where he signs as a minor league free agent.
Baseball America declared this to be the best draft in the game after the '01 season was completed, but the Tigers got little from this crop as well. After four grueling years (371 innings in his last three years) at Rice, Kenny Baugh (1) threw another 64 1/3 innings in his pro debut. It came as a surprise to no one that his career was derailed by shoulder problems. Baugh may yet reach the majors having pitched for the Marlins' AAA affiliate this year.
Injuries hampered Michael Woods (1S) and draft-and-follow signee Humberto Sanchez (31), although the latter was sent to the Yankees in the Gary Sheffield trade, and has a shot at making the team in 2009. Jack Hannahan (3) has been the most successful of the big leaguers, but that was only after he was dealt for Jason Perry, who was released by the Tigers in the spring. Mike Rabelo (4) was a part of the Miguel Cabrera trade, and Don Kelly (8) got a handful of at-bats for the Pirates in 2007. Ryan Raburn (5) is the best in-house hope, but it appears he will profile as a utility player.
For as bad as the Tigers were in the first two drafts of the decade, the Tigers fared much better in 2002, although much of that help has come with signees reaching the big leagues with other teams.
Scott Moore (1) never found his comfort zone with the Tigers, and was later traded with Bo Flowers (5) to the Cubs for Kyle Farnsworth. Moore has just 98 at-bats in the big leagues with the Cubs and Orioles combined.
Flowers and Robbie Sovie (4) both later turned to football, and Luke Carlin (8) and Jesse Carlson (15) both made it to the majors with the Padres and Blue Jays respectively after they were unceremoniously released for doing a skit at instructional ball that drew the ire of then-Oneonta manager Randy Ready, who was fired a year later. The Tigers also failed to sign Anthony Reyes (13), who beat them in Game 1 of the 2006 World Series as part of the Cardinals' run to the championship.
However, with the bad comes the good, as the Tigers stole Curtis Granderson (3), who has become one of the top centerfielders in the game, and Joel Zumaya (11) was a huge part of the Tigers' run to the World Series two years ago.
Brent Cleven (2) also has made it to the big leagues with the Tigers in each of the last three seasons. Overall, six players have reached the big leagues from this draft with Corey Hamman (12) still pitching in the upper levels of the Pirates organization as of this past season.
This is another draft that appears the Tigers will get very little out of, although there is still hope for a few players still remaining with the organization. With the third pick in the draft, the Tigers tabbed right-hander Kyle Sleeth, who like Baugh, was beset by shoulder problems and retired less than five years after he was drafted. Jordan Tata (16) made the Tigers out of spring training in 2006 after going 13-2 in 2005 at Lakeland, but he has regressed since then, and like Sleeth, Tony Giarratano (3) had his career with the Tigers cut short due to injuries.
Brian Rogers (11) was used to acquire Sean Casey from the Pirates for the stretch drive in 2006, and he pitched in 13 games for them before the Tigers signed him this past summer. Virgil Vasquez (7) appeared in five games for the Tigers in 2007, and despite the current state of the pitching staff, he was put on waivers and claimed by Boston earlier this week.
Detroit failed to sign prominent draft-and-follows Adam Trent (8), Sean Henry (10), Josh Wahpepah (17), and Dustin Richardson (39), but one they did sign defied the odds and made his debut with the Tigers this past September in Dusty Ryan (48).
Jay Sborz (2) had a breakthrough season and he could be on his way to being the dominant bullpen arm scouts thought he could be coming out of high school. Josh Rainwater (4) put up respectable numbers at Erie, and Andrew Graham (19) is still with the organization.
Although five players have made it to the big leagues from this draft, it appears that Ryan has the best hope of becoming the only one to have a chance at being a significant contributor for now.
After missing on a slew of first-round picks, the Tigers found a potential ace with Justin Verlander, whom the Tigers selected second overall after the Padres took Matt Bush as a signability pick to start the draft. Verlander started 35-17 in his pro career before falling to 11-17 this past year, and if he can't get his career back on track, this draft takes a significant downturn.
Eric Beattie (2) suffered from Steve Blass disease after signing, and Jeff Frazier was traded for Yorman Bazardo before being reacquired last winter. Collin Mahoney (4) and Andrew Kown (5) both are no longer with the organization, and the team failed to sign Chris Carpenter (7). On the plus side, Luke French (8) held his own as a 22-year-old at Erie, and James Skelton (14) has emerged as one of the Tigers' top prospects. One year after signing a 48th-round draft-and-follow that made it to the big leagues, the Tigers could have a 50th-round draft-and-follow make it should Max Leon continue his ascent up the ladder.
Although the Tigers didn't sign Carpenter, they did sign Dallas Trahern (34), who was part of the package dealt to the Marlins for Miguel Cabrera.
Four years after Greg Smith's final draft, Verlander remains the only major leaguer from this draft, but that could change in the coming years with French, Skelton and Leon all having played at the upper levels this past year, and this grade could fluctuate up or down depending on what Verlander and the others do.
After leading Boston's drafts for the previous three years, Dave Dombrowski tabbed David Chadd to take over as the Tigers' point man on their drafts, and his first effort may go down as the best the team has had in nearly 30 years.
Three years after this draft, six players have already made it to the majors, and the Tigers didn't have the benefit of having their second-round pick after they forfeited it for signing free agent Troy Percival.
Detroit could have a pair of regulars in time with mid-round picks Matt Joyce (12) and Michael Hollimon (16). Cameron Maybin (1) still remains one of the top prospects in the game and he should be Florida's center fielder next year after being a centerpiece of the Miguel Cabrera trade. Burke Badenhop (18) was also a part of the Cabrera trade, and Jeff Larish (5) and Clete Thomas (6) made it to the big leagues this past season.
Chris Robinson (3) was dealt for Neifi Perez after Placido Polanco was injured during the '06 stretch drive, and Kevin Whelan (4) and Anthony Claggett (11) were traded to the Yankees to complete the Gary Sheffield trade.
Casper Wells (14) had a breakthrough campaign in 2008, and he could force his way into the Tigers' future plans. Brendan Wise (8), Louis Ott (13), Will Rhymes (27), Ryan Roberson (30) and Jeff Kunkel (37 DFE) all played at Erie last year.
The Tigers' draft could've been further enhanced had they signed David Adams (21), Zach Putnam (38) and Anthony Capra (49), but they all went to college and were selected in the third, sixth and fourth rounds respectively this past June. Keep an eye on Eric Fry (29), whom the Tigers didn't sign as a draft-and-follow and was inked by Texas prior to the 2007 draft.
Obviously, a lot can happen in the future, but this draft is shaping up very nicely for the Tigers. It's possible that the number of players that reach the majors from this draft could reach double figures, which would be extraordinary.