06/04/2002 7:02 pm ET
Tigers focus on position players
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Tigers round-by-round picks
DETROIT -- The Tigers' run for offense didn't stop with first-round pick Scott Moore.
A year after the Tigers used their first 11 draft picks on pitchers, five of the team's first six selections Tuesday were position players. Nearly all of them are projected as multi-tooled athletes with the magic word for scouts: upside.
"We felt like the depth of the draft was pitching," scouting director Greg Smith said. "There were some quality position players, but not a lot of them. We felt we had to identify those guys early and there would still be pitching to follow."
Even with that strategy, the Tigers had considered taking a pitcher in the first round. That direction changed with the signing of a draft-and-follow selection from last year. Right-hander Humberto Sanchez was drafted in the 31st round last year but had a chance to be a first-round pick this year had he stayed.
From Moore on down, athleticism was the primary theme, especially with outfielders. Third-round pick Curtis Granderson sculpted himself into an athlete in the weight room to go with the batting eye he honed at Illinois-Chicago.
"He has made himself into the player he is today," UIC coach Mike Dee said, "whether it's in the weight room, changing his swing or his approach to the game. If he stays strong and continues on the path he's on, inevitably, he's going to have a great career."
Fourth-round pick Robbie Sovie also works as an example. Though six feet tall and 200 pounds, he has a football scholarship to Western Carolina and was a prep standout in track. His speed, power and hitting were enough to earn comparisons to Larry Walker by Major League Baseball's scouting bureau.
Fifth-round pick Clarence "Bo" Flowers has a scholarship to play at Arizona State University and was a three-star standout in high school. "He's just starting to concentrate on baseball," one Tiger scout said. "We think he can be an exciting player."
The theme wasn't by accident. "We took some athletes," Smith said. "We took some guys who can play the middle of the diamond, guys who can play center field, some guys we felt we needed. They were guys who we felt were the best players on our board and, as it turned out, the best players available, so it was a nice marriage."
One guy that didn't fit that mold was Prince Fielder, Cecil's son, who was widely speculated as a possible Tigers pick had he slipped to the eighth spot. The Tigers' depth at first base, led by Eric Munson at Triple-A, was a large reason that Smith still would've passed on the large hitter.
"We probably would've gone in a different direction," he said. "One reason is I think we have enough first basemen, and ones we like. Take nothing away from Prince, but we have a few of those we like who we think are close. The guy's going to hit, no question about it."
Here's a player-by-player rundown of the Tigers' first day of the draft:
Round 2: Brent Clevlen, OF, Westwood HS (Cedar Park, Texas). The Tigers project him as a five-tool player. His arm might be his strongest tool; he quarterbacked the school's football team and was clocked at 93 mph as a pitcher.
Round 3: Curtis Granderson, OF, Illinois-Chicago. The college junior and Horizon League MVP finished second in the nation with a .483 average. He has lifted his way to a strong, athletic body and has the ability to become even better.
Round 3: Matt Pender, RHP, Kennsaw State University. "He's a big-bodied kid with lots of upside," one Tigers scout said. Pender's 6-foot-5 frame delivers a fastball anywhere from 90 to 94 mph mixed with what scouts called a power curve at 78-82 mph.
Round 4: Robbie Sovie, OF, Stratford Academy (Macon, Ga.). MLB scouts compared this right-handed hitter with Larry Walker, though his power is projected to be more of a line-drive variety. "We think he has the potential to be a five-tool type player," a club scout said. He has the speed and range to play center field and the power for the corner spots.
Round 5: Clarence "Bo" Flowers, Walther (Ill.) Lutheran HS. He's similar in size to Granderson, though possibly with a little more power.
Round 6: Christopher Maples, 3B, University of North Carolina. He played three different positions plus pitched as a closer in four seasons for the Tar Heels. He was a late bloomer, batting .356 with 22 homers and 74 RBIs in his senior season. "He's an athletic infielder who had a lot of success in college," one Tigers scout said.
Round 7: Wilton Reynolds, OF, Oral Roberts. Another potential five-tool player, the slender 6-foot-4 outfielder led the Golden Eagles in home runs his senior season after earning first-team all-conference honors last year. He has good power and a strong arm, having played right field.
Round 8: Troy Pickford, RHP, Oral Roberts. Reynolds' teammate is literally a big prospect at 6-foot-8 and has the potential to throw three Major League pitches, according to the Tigers scouting department. He struck out 53 hitters in 44 2/3 innings during his only season with the Golden Eagles, having transferred from Fresno City College.
Round 9: Marcos Hernandez, LHP, Ponce De Leon (PR) HS. He's a finesse southpaw who throws a fastball, three-quarters curve and changeup. He thrives on location and just turned 18 years old.
Round 10: Luke Carlin, C, Northeastern Univ. The Tigers call him an aggressive catcher with a strong and accurate arm behind the plate. He threw out 20 of 42 attempted base-stealers in his junior season and picked off a runner from all three bases. The switch-hitter also led the Huskies with a .364 batting average.
Round 11: Joel Zumaya, RHP, Bonita Vista HS (Calif.). The Tigers compare him to Jeff Nelson with a large frame, three-quarters arm angle, a low-90s fastball and a nasty slider. "The challenge for him is getting him to throw strikes consistently," one scout said.
Round 12: Corey Hamman, LHP, Monclair State. The Tigers call him a bulldog-type pitcher. He throws a fastball around 89-91 mph and isn't afraid to go inside.
Round 13: Anthony Reyes, RHP, USC. Detroit was surprised to find this workhorse pitcher available so late. The Trojans' No. 3 starter throws a fastball at 90-93 mph with good sinking action. He changes speeds well.
Round 14: Jason Graham, RHP, UCF. The Golden Knights' outfielder turned reliever wowed scouts at workouts with a lively two-seam fastball that sinks to go with a darting four-seamer.
Round 15: Jesse Carlson, LHP, UConn. The lanky 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior commanded a "sneaky quick" fastball that gained velocity over the fall along with two other pitches to toss four complete games. He's projected as a likely reliever, perhaps a situational left-hander.
Round 16: Michael Smith, LHP, Valdosta State. An even lankier southpaw at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds, he went 6-2 in 11 starts this season. He's a projectable lefthander with an average fastball.
Round 17: Robert Watson, SS, Oklahoma State. He's 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but he hit 10 home runs for the Cowboys while hitting .309 and flashing a strong glove. "He's just a baseball player," Tiger scouts said. "He's the guy who knows how to play the game."
Round 18: Jacob Coash, LHP, Canyon (Calif.) HS. The 6-foot-6 lefty boasts an average fastball and a curveball with good downward movement. He could end up opting for junior college.
Round 19: Rafael Mendez, C, Notre Dame (PR) HS. The Tigers compare his build to Jim Leyritz with power. Like Carlin, he's a solid "catch and throw" defensive catcher.
Round 20: Jason Kennedy, OF, Minnesota. From the university that brought the Tigers Jack Hannahan last year comes Kennedy, who led the Golden Gophers in stolen bases and ranks among the career leaders in home runs. "Good athlete, big strong kid," said a Tigers' scout.
Round 21: Corey Loomis, 2B, Bowling Green State University. The Tigers drafted the gap-hitter out of high school three years ago. This year, he led the Falcons with a .404 average and showed surprising power with 13 homers, 52 RBIs and a .715 slugging percentage.
Round 22: Cameron McGuire, C, South Grand Prairie (Texas) HS. MLB scouts compared his 6-foot-3 build to Chad Kreuter. He has a chance to hit for power.
Jason Beck covers the Tigers for MLB.com. This article was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.