2010 Tigers Draft Preview

After spending the last year scouting countless players all over the country, the moment of truth is here for all 30 teams, as the 2010 draft will begin on Monday night.

For the Tigers, the draft will be a historic one, as it will mark the lowest they have picked since 1984, when they picked 52nd overall.

The Tigers do not have a first-round pick due to signing Type A free agent closer Jose Valverde from the Astros, but the team does have a pair of sandwich picks due to losing free agent relievers Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney to the Astros and Angels respectively.

Detroit's first pick is the 44th overall as compensation for losing Lyon, and they won't have long to wait to make their second pick, as they also hold the 48th overall pick for losing Rodney. What the Tigers do with those selections and their picks in subsequent rounds is anybody's guess. The 2010 draft crop is one filled with position players (particularly from the prep ranks) with tantalizing tools and upside, but little in the way of present-day production.

Although there is a distinct lack of left-handed pitching available, the crop of right-handers more than makes up for it, and as an organization that loves to stockpile arms, you can bet the team will make that a focal point during the three-day event.

As far as what the Tigers will do with their first sandwich picks in three years, their options certainly will not be limited. As a team that has had no issues with taking players with signability issues, there are several players worth noting that could be available due to having rather sizable price tags.

LSU's Anthony Ranaudo entered the spring as the top college pitcher available, but the right-hander has encountered elbow issues this spring. Since returning to the hill, Ranaudo has been nowhere near his past self, but he had a great showing in the SEC Tournament last weekend.

Given his performance this spring along with a checkered medical history and Scott Boras advising him, Ranaudo is truly one of the draft's wildcards. Although it's highly doubtful he would last until the Tigers pick, he will certainly be an intriguing name to keep an eye on Monday night. Like Ranaudo, McKinney (Texas) right-hander Zach Lee also profiles as one of the draft's biggest wildcards thanks to an ironclad commitment to play quarterback at LSU.

Lee figured to be a solid bet to make it to college before the season started, but when his fastball jumped into the mid-90s, the scouting community came out in full force to evaluate him. Should Lee slide far enough, the Tigers would be tempted to take him, but they would have to be certain they could sign him, and there has been little indication that Lee is willing to sign regardless of how much money is offered.

Like Lee, Henderson (Texas) right-hander Tyrell Jenkins is a multi-sport athlete that is committed to Baylor for football, but unlike Lee, Jenkins reportedly is much more open to signing, and with that in mind, it's quite doubtful he makes it to the Tigers.

Georgia is flat-out loaded this year, and Cook County's Kaleb Cowart ranks as one of the top two-way players in the country. Most scouts prefer him as a pitcher, but Cowart himself has made it clear he wants to hit, which some clubs have a willingness to allow happen. However, Cowart is reportedly has a price tag of $3 million to steer him away from Florida State commitment.

One name that could surface on draft night is Harvard Westlake (Ca.) outfielder Austin Wilson. There is no questioning Wilson's tools, but his commitment to Stanford has made him one of the toughest signs in the draft.

Heading into the season, Barbe (La.) third baseman Garin Cecchini had aspirations of being a first-round pick thanks to his polished and powerful bat. A torn ACL abruptly ended his season, but the injury hasn't dimmed his draft status. Although it may take first-round money to lure him away from his LSU commitment, Cecchini is a good bet to get it thanks to his track record with the bat.

There is no question the Tigers will be in a position to pounce should a big name fall, but should they elect to not go that route, they could their attention towards pitching, and I wouldn't be surprised in the least if their first few picks all were pitchers given who could be available.

Of course, there is also the matter of position players, and with the Tigers transitioning themselves into a younger team in the next few years, it will be interesting to see if they look for polished players that can move quickly, particularly on the left side of the infield. With so much uncertainty surrounding this draft class, it will be interesting to see what the Tigers' approach will be. Will they have a rather conservative draft and go college-heavy as they did two years ago, or will they roll the dice and take some gambles on the high-risk, high-reward talents available?

We'll find out starting Monday night.

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