This draft was a very peculiar one to say the least, as the normally college-heavy Tigers selected a whopping 24 players from the high school ranks, which is the most the Tigers have taken since the draft was cut to 50 rounds back in 1998.
It's a draft that harkens back to David Chadd's first two drafts with Florida (2001) and Boston (2002), where he selected 23 and 26 high school players respectively.
It's also interesting to note that the Tigers took a high number of prep players despite the abolishment of the draft-and-follow rule a few years ago. In the past, had a team been successful in pushing a high school player into junior college instead of their four-year commitment, they would've controlled their rights up until one week before the next draft, but teams now control players up until the August 17th deadline.
The Tigers usually sign around 30 of their 50 picks, but it will be difficult to reach that number this year. Even though negotiations with first-rounder Jacob Turner will be difficult, the Tigers wouldn't have drafted him knowing they couldn't get a deal done. Andy Oliver (2), Wade Gaynor (3), Edwin Gomez (4) and Austin Wood (5) will all likely sign, and I suspect Jamie Johnson (7), John Murrian (9), Chris Sedon (10) and Adam Wilk (11) will come to terms.
Michael Rockett (13), Kenny Faulk (16), Nate Newman (17), Eric Roof (18), Rawley Bishop (19), Jimmy Gulliver (20), Matthew Mansilla (22) and Patrick McKenna (27) are all seniors that will be in the fold as well.
Should the Tigers be successful in adding college pitchers Kevan Hess (14), Giovani Soto (21), Cory Hamilton (23), Wade Kapteyn (24) and Derek Kline (34), that would being their total to 22.
At this juncture, this is where things become hazy and very interesting. The Tigers popped two of the draft's toughest signs in Daniel Fields (6) and Mark Appel (15), as well as college arms Craig Fritch (8) and Matt Thomson (12) early on.
On Thursday, 16 of the Tigers' final 20 selections were high school players with significant ceilings that the majority of have four-year college commitments. The Tigers also selected Puerto Rican prep third baseman Edgar Corcino (26), as well as tough signs in Victor Roache (25), Tobin Mateychick (28) and James Robbins (30) from the prep ranks, plus college reliever Michael Morrison (29).
In addition to Turner, it wouldn't be out of the question that for the Tigers to sign both Fields and Appel, the cost could be in the neighborhood of $3.5 million for both, although it stands to reason that the Tigers would likely sign only one with Fields being the top target. Fritsch and Thomson both harbored hopes of being premium-round picks before suffering through disappointing years. Fritsch has extra leverage as a sophomore with two years of eligibility left, while Thomson spurned the Blue Jays two years ago after being drafted out of junior college.
If the Tigers elect to spread the wealth and try to reel in several players, they have no shortage of candidates. Roache has a full tool shed, but he is an outstanding student and most scouts think he needs to go to school to refine his game. Mateychick has flashed a fastball up to 94, and Robbins is one of the top two-way prospects in the Northwest.
On Thursday, the Tigers mixed in projectable arms as well as some very athletic position players that offer some nice upside. The Tigers also selected players with close ties to the organization in Nick Avila (42), Andrew Allen (43) and Jake Porcello (48), but I'm not expecting the Tigers to sign them.
As of now, I would guess that Andrew Walter (31), Parker Markel (32) and Cameron Giannini (49) would be the three arms they would be closely monitoring, although Markel is probably the most signable having signed with Yavapai JC. Left-hander Kevin Chambers (47) would also be in the mix, but I think he likely ranks behind the right-handers at this stage.
The Tigers have more in the way of position players to choose from with well-tooled outfielders Cody Keefer (33), Pat Biondi (35), Tarran Senay (38), Charlie Markson (44), Jimmy Brennan (45) and Nicolas Rosthenhausler (50), as well as catchers Danny Canela (37), Ben Bechtol (40) and Larry Balkwill (41). Infielders Ben Crumpton (35), Chad Duling (39) and Nathan Goro (46) round out the group.
All of these players will be watched closely this summer, although Biondi is the most likely not to sign due to his strong Michigan commitment, and Balkwill also would be better served by fulfilling his commitment to Siena to get a better feel for pro-caliber pitching.
Senay was a potential top-five round talent before a broken wrist set him back. Markson and Brennan are raw due to hailing from cold-weather states, but have intriguing tools. Keefer and Rosthenhausler are well-rounded players, and Canela and Bechtol standout for their solid overall skill-sets. Of the infielders, Crumpton likely grades as the best athlete, Goro is solid in all phases of the game, and Duling may be the most signable with a JUCO commitment.
One thing is for certain, the next two months will be very interesting to watch. While Turner's negotiations will certainly dominate the headlines, everyone needs to pay close attention to what is happening with the late-round draftees. If the Tigers play their cards right, they could add a very significant haul of talent to a system that is in dire need of it.