Pitching the focus for Tigers on Day 2 of Draft
Detroit departs from strategy in 2011 to go with arms early on
It's been said over the past few years that baseball is turning into a pitcher's game. If that's the case, the Tigers sure want to be ready, as they went heavy on pitching on Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft.
The Tigers nabbed eight pitchers, and aside from outfielder Austin Schotts in the third round, the team invested all of its early picks -- four out of their first five -- in what they hope will be quality arms.
"We wanted pitching, obviously," Tigers scouting director Scott Pleis said.
It was the opposite of the strategy the team employed in 2011, when 10 of their first 11 picks were position players.
With their first pick of the Draft -- coming in the second round at No. 91 overall -- Detroit took Jake Thompson, a 6-foot-4 right-hander out of Rockwall-Heath High School in Texas.
"[He's got a] great body, power arm, [he's a] good kid, great competitor," Pleis said. "He has got the whole package."
Thompson is an 18-year-old verbally committed to TCU, but the Tigers hope being picked in the second round might lure him to begin his professional career.
"We've talked to all these kids, and they've all shown the willingness to want to go out and play," Pleis said. "So I think we'll be fine, as far as signability."
Thompson was the only high school pitcher Detroit selected. In Rounds 4-7, it was all seasoned collegiate arms -- and for the rest of the Draft, it went all collegiate players.
Vanderbilt right-hander Drew VerHagen, who attended the same high school as Thompson, was taken in the fourth round. Central Florida left-hander and captain Joe Rogers was selected at pick No. 184 in the fifth. Oklahoma's Jordan John was taken in the sixth and Florida's Hudson Randall made it four straight pitchers in the seventh.
Whereas investing early in pitchers differed from last year's Draft, taking college talent over high school talent did not. In 2011, 24 of the Tigers' 29 picks were players making their way through the collegiate ranks. Thompson and Schott were the only two high schoolers selected on Day 2 this year.
"I think we tried to pick the best players, first of all," Pleis said. "I think it just worked out that the high school players that were available at the time that we liked were there and were signable guys. And then as you went on in the Draft ... it got harder and harder to have any high school kids that we thought the signability would be good."
Round 2, Jake Thompson, RHP, Rockwall-Heath High School, Texas: With the 91st overall pick on the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Tigers went with Thompson. The 18-year-old has a fastball that sits in the low 90s and is accompanied by a slider and changeup.
Round 3, Austin Schotts, OF, Centennial High School, Texas: The Tigers took another Texas high school player with their third-round selection. Schotts, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder, is described as having "incredible speed" and "great range." He played shortstop in high school, but could play center field with Detroit if he drops his commitment to Oklahoma State.
Round 4, Drew VerHagen, RHP, Vanderbilt: The 6-foot-6, right-handed junior out of Vanderbilt was taken by the Tigers with pick No. 154. VerHagen is another Texas native and is from the same high school as Thompson. He is 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 27 appearances and seven starts for the Commodores this season and is expected to be a reliever in the big leagues.
Round 5, Joe Rogers, LHP, Central Florida: Rogers is a 6-foot, 200-pound left-hander who went 4-1 with a 1.60 ERA in 39 1/3 innings of relief as a captain for the Knights. According to Mark Anderson of Scout.com, Rogers has an upper-80s, low-90s fastball with a curveball and a changeup.
Round 6, Jordan John, LHP, Oklahoma: John is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound left-hander that went 8-5 with a 2.23 ERA in 22 appearances for the Sooners this season. He struck out 86 batters over 96 2/3 innings.
Round 7, Hudson Randall, RHP, Florida: As a sophomore, Randall was chosen as an Honorable Mention All-American by College Baseball Insider. As a junior, Randall is leading the pitching staff of what is ranked as the No. 1 college team in the country. He is 8-2 with a 2.83 ERA in 14 starts for the Gators.
Round 8, Jeff McVaney, LF, Texas State University: McVaney leads Texas State in almost all hitting categories. He owns a .338 batting average with 21 doubles, 10 home runs, 48 RBIs and has scored 46 runs in 56 games. His father, John McVaney, played in the Majors for the Orioles.
Round 9, Jake Stewart, CF, Stanford: Stewart was drafted in the 14th round by the Phillies out of high school, but elected to play for Stanford. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound center fielder is hitting .290 in 46 games for the Cardinal. He is second on the team in doubles (15) and third in RBIs (27).
Round 10, Charles Gillies, RHP, The Master's College: Gillies was named the Golden State Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year after leading the conference in innings pitched (92 2/3), ERA (1.94), opposing batting average (.180) and strikeouts (108).
Round 11, Bennett Pickar, C, Oral Roberts: Hitting .296 in 63 games for Oral Roberts this season, he put up nine doubles, two home runs and 33 RBIs.
Round 12, Julio Felix, RHP, Pima Community College: Felix is a 6-foot-1, 185-pound sophomore from Tucson, Ariz. He was 9-2 in his sophomore season at Pima County Community College and had a 2. 08 ERA. As a senior at Sunnyside High School, he went 2-2 and had a 3.37 ERA while hitting .258.
Round 13, Devon Travis, 2B, Florida State: Travis is third on the Seminoles with a .310 batting average on the season. He leads the team with 22 doubles.
Round 14, Hunter Scantling, RHP, Florida State: At 6-foot-8, 280 pounds, Scantling could probably play on the Lions' offensive line and possibly center for the Pistons. He is 5-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 45 innings of relief for the Seminoles.
Round 15, Jordan Dean, SS, Central Michigan: With their last pick on Day 2, the Tigers went local. Dean is listed as a 5-foot-10, 180-pound shortstop. He hit .349 for the Chippewas in 2012 and recorded the second-most hits (96) in CMU history.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.