6/8/2013 9:01 P.M. ET
Rhymes' big weekend culminates in Draft pick
By Bobby Nightengale / MLB.com
Raphael Rhymes has a lot to celebrate these days. On Friday night the Louisiana State University catcher helped his team top Oklahoma -- and this year's third Draft pick Jonathan Gray -- in Game 1 of his NCAA Super Regional. On Saturday the Tigers made Rhymes their 15th-round selection (456th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft.
Listed at six feet and 190 pounds, the senior outfielder is hitting .340 with four home runs and 45 RBIs. Last year he set a school record and led the nation with a .431 batting average.
Rhymes has been drafted twice in the past, each time improving his position. In 201 the Pirates made him their 40th-round selection after his first season at LSU. Last year the Yankees drafted him in the 30th round.
Prior to joining LSU, Rhymes was named the 2010 Division II National Junior College Player of the Year after leading LSU-Eunice to a Division II JUCO national championship.
Tigers kick off Day 3 by taking hurler Green
The Tigers started Day 3 of the First-Year Player Draft in the same way they started Day 2 -- by grabbing a University of Louisville ace. They selected right-hander Chad Green with their 11th-round pick (336th overall) on Saturday afternoon.
Green spent most of his first two years at Louisville in the bullpen before taking over as the Cardinals' Friday-night starter this season. Although he doesn't have as much professional potential as his rotation-mates, he is a solid prospect.
Green prepares to match up against Vanderbilt's left-hander Kevin Ziomek, who was selected by the Tigers in the second round, on Saturday night in the first game in their best-of-three series in the NCAA Super Regional. Green has struck out 70 in 97 1/3 innings this season while only walking 21.
Green commands his low-90s fastball well and uses his 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame to create a good downhill angle. He also throws a slider and a changeup, though both are still developing. The Tigers could give Green more time in the rotation to work on his secondary stuff. If not, he could return to the bullpen, where he might move quickly.
Green enjoyed a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, going 4-0 with 47 strikeouts in 42 innings. He was also drafted in 2010 out of high school in the 37th round by the Blue Jays.
Ficociello gets call from Detroit at No. 366
An intriguing switch-hitter in the SEC entering 2013, Dominic Ficociello struggled for much of the season, leaving his value as a prospect somewhat in question, but he was still selected on Saturday in the 12th round of the First-Year Player Draft with the 366th overall pick.
Ficociello was a solid high school prospect, taken in the 20th round by the Tigers in 2010, and a stellar freshman year in which he hit a team-high .335 led to even more hype. But after a so-so sophomore season, he was in and out of the lineup for much of his junior campaign. In 44 games he hit just .250 and struck out 29 times against 15 walks.
Ficociello showed good bat speed at times, leading some to feel that he could develop power down the road. He played mostly third and first at Arkansas, though he dabbled at second last fall.
Green shows potential, rewarded with Tigers pick
After missing most of the 2011 season as a medical redshirt and playing sparingly in 2012, catcher Austin Green finally was able to show his potential this year, and the Tigers selected him with their 13th-round pick (396th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft on Saturday.
The redshirt senior hit .301 with five home runs and 39 RBIs this season alongside Kris Bryant, who was the second overall pick in this year's Draft, at the University of San Diego.
Green was named the West Coast Conference Player of the Month in May, hitting .482 with two home runs and 20 RBIs. He had 12 multihit games in May, including 10 in his last 11 games ofthe month.
He was also taken in the 43rd round by the Astros in the 2008 Draft out of high school.
Verlander's younger brother drafted by Tigers
The first time the Tigers drafted Ben Verlander, in the 46th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, it seemed like a courtesy to his brother, Justin. Now it probably has more to do with his skills, as Detroit selected the 6-foot-4 right fielder with its 14th-round selection (426th overall) on Saturday afternoon.
"Obviously, it's not just a favor to draft him, you don't do that in the 14th round," Justin said. "They see promise in him, and I've talked to [general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] about him a little bit, and he said the guys like him, so it wasn't just one of those scenarios where you're taking him to do the Verlander family a favor. He earned this all on his own, and I'm really happy for him."
A former two-way player who stopped pitching to focus on hitting, Verlander has dominated at the plate for Old Dominion University, with team highs in slugging (.638), on-base percentage (.429) and steals (13).
[I'm] extremely proud," Justin said. "And he really just did it this year. It's all kind of a whirlwind, and I'm sure it was a whirlwind for him. If it was anybody else, it's not really that big of a deal, going from a pitcher to a two-way guy to just a hitter and having a fantastic year. But because he's my brother and he quit pitching, it became a story."
Ben has been to Detroit in the past, not only to watch his brother pitch but to work with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.
"Coach McClendon has really helped me with my swing a lot," the younger Verlander said earlier this season. "I came up here last summer and took it into this season. Just coming back and being able to work with him in the cages and getting out on the field with him is great."
Though Ben doesn't have the same acclaim out of college as Justin, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2004 Draft, the older still hopes the younger can reach his goal of reaching the Major Leagues.
"Nine years separate us, so we never even came close to playing with each other before, but what an experience that would be," Justin said. "Hopefully, that's the case. I hope he's able to make it."
Tigers keep it in family, draft Torii Hunter Jr.
It's been quite a time for Torii Hunter Jr. Last week he graduated from Prosper (Texas) High School. On Friday he celebrated his 18th birthday. And on Saturday the Tigers made him their 36th-round selection (1,086th overall) of the First-Year Player Draft.
Hunter is also a highly regarded football recruit, and he has signed a Letter of Intent to play wide receiver at Notre Dame. He recorded 71 receptions for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns in his senior season, according to Yahoo! Sports, but he's also good on the diamond, although he didn't have a chance to play during his senior season due to a broken left femur, an injury he sustained in the first practice before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 1.
"It was hard for him," his father, Torii Sr., said. "He was devastated. He cried, he wanted to be out there, he was with his teammates every game in the dugout, pushing them and trying to lift them up."
When he learned after Saturday's game that his son had been drafted by the Tigers, Torii Sr. beamed. He said, "That's awesome" before laughing and later shaking general manager Dave Dombrowki's hand.
Because of the strong future that awaits him at Notre Dame, Hunter Jr. is unlikely to sign with the Tigers. He will have the opportunity to play both football and baseball in college when he's healthy.
"He's a ... really good baseball player, unfortunately he broke his leg, and he's really good at football," Torii Sr. said. "He signed with Notre Dame, so we'll sit back and we'll talk about it and try to wait, but it's good that they put the stamp on him. I like this organization, and trust me, I think he'll be taken care of here."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.