06/04/2002 1:12 pm ET
Tigers select Moore with first pick
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Tigers round-by-round picks
DETROIT -- The first draft pick of the David Dombrowski era was certainly a departure from past history. Scott Moore hopes to make it a departure worth taking.
"I'm ready to go play," an excited Cypress (Calif.) High School shortstop said Tuesday.
With Moore's selection as the eighth overall pick, Tigers scouting director Greg Smith went after a position player with the team's top selection for only the second time in his six years directing the club's draft strategy. Moreover, the Tigers went with a high school player with the top selection for only the second time in the last nine years.
Trends aside, Smith lived up to his strategy to go after whom he felt to be the best player available, regardless of position, and one of the best athletes in the draft. Smith compared Moore's physical stature to Chipper Jones, while others have tabbed him like Eric Chavez -- powerful bat, strong arm and surprising mobility and at 6-feet-3 and 180 pounds.
"He is a high school shortstop with the potential to be an offensive player, a left-handed hitter with power," Smith said. "Moore has good instincts at shortstop and we are looking forward to bringing him into the Tigers organization."
Most coaches would cringe at such lofty comparisons. Cypress coach Dave Lewis doesn't.
"He has great speed for his size," Lewis said. "I think the comparisons to Chipper as far as his athleticism are right on. I think the comparisons to Chavez in his ability to hit for power and hit for average are also right."
Fittingly, Chavez is one of Moore's favorite players along with Mike Piazza.
"I've never really been a fan of teams. I've been a fan of players," Moore said. "I think both (Chipper and Chavez) are great all-star baseball players. It's cool to be compared to those guys, but I'm not going to say I'm going to be those guys in the big leagues."
Moore entered the draft ranked by Baseball America as the top player available in Southern California and the third-best position player available nationwide. He was the third of four shortstops drafted among the top 10 picks Monday following B.J. Upton, who went second overall to the Devil Rays, and Royals selection Donald Greinke.
Moore batted .329 (25-for-76) with 29 runs scored and 11 home runs this season at Cypress High School in California. The previous year, he hit .406 with 10 home runs, 22 RBIs and seven stolen bases.
"I felt like I had a good season," Moore said. "My batting average wasn't as high as it usually is. I felt like I handled myself well in the field."
Moore said he was informed over the weekend that he was in the Tigers' mix. Smith said he had three options in mind with the first-round pick when the draft began.
"That's why I spent so much time talking to clubs in front of us," Smith said. "Because I wasn't sure if all three of those guys were going to be gone or -- believe it or not -- all there."
As it turned out, two of them were there. The Reds grabbed one with high school right-hander Chris Gruler. He didn't reveal the other one, although it could've been either Canadian lefty Jeff Francis (drafted 9th), prep outfielder Jeremy Hermida (11th), or Virginia Tech southpaw Joe Saunders (12th).
Moore's selection completed a sudden rise up the charts in just the last few weeks.
"A month ago, I thought he could be a late first-rounder or a compensation pick," Lewis said. "But over the last couple weeks, there were enough calls to indicate he could go in the top 15."
The Tigers didn't bring Moore to Detroit for a workout. However Smith, assistant GM Al Avila and national scouts saw plenty of him on scouting trips, capped by a Cypress playoff game May 17. Moore homered once and flew out to deep left-center -- the opposite field -- in another at-bat.
Moore was given the day off of school -- with permission -- when Tigers scout Rob Wilfong called just after 10 a.m. Pacific Time. He has a week to let his Major League future sink in before he graduates June 12 and makes a living playing the game he has loved since age six -- assuming he signs soon, which both Smith and Moore indicate shouldn't be a problem. While Moore said he wants "to be treated fairly" for his draft spot, he selected former Major Leaguer Steve Springer as an adviser over others, including Scott Boras.
"I've played baseball almost every single day of my life," he said. "I'm not playing every day because I'm forced, I'm playing because that's what I like to do."
The last time the Tigers drafted a shortstop high in the draft, they made him a catcher. That would be Brandon Inge, a shortstop and relief pitcher out of Virginia Commonwealth University when the Tigers drafted him in the second round four years ago.
That drastic a position switch seems unlikely for Moore. However, with 22-year-old shortstop Ramon Santiago already in Detroit and 20-year-old Omar Infante on his heels, Moore has a good chance of moving to third base. Their top prospect there is Jack Hannahan, a third-round pick from last year currently playing at Class A Lakeland.
Ironically, Moore played catcher for Cypress as a sophomore and earned first-team all-league honors there.
"We're going to leave him at shortstop until his play would say otherwise," Smith said. "I would not be upset if there comes a day when he move him to third. We think he can certainly play there and he can certainly hit enough to play there. But for now, he'll be a shortstop."
He also has a competitiveness that sounds similar to Bobby Higginson.
"I want to win," Moore said. "I'm not going to go out there and try to hurt anybody, I'll do anything to win."
Jason Beck covers the Tigers for MLB.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Long-limbed, athletic build. Solid frame. Big bopper hitting style. Power stroke, maximum extension with lift to swing. Good bat speed and turns it loose. Plus-homer potential. Anticipates and stays alert. Aggressive on bases.