The Tigers hold the 20th, 39th and 54th pick in the MLB First Year Player Draft, all of which are slated to be used tomorrow. While the draft is a crapshoot at best, it's still fun to speculate on what players might be chosen by the Tigers (Lynn Henning's column today is a good example). So let's take the time to look at a few players that the Tigers might select. Remember that, odds are, we'll draft a power arm or a toolsy prep player in the first round, so this list will be heavy on those.
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, Florida
Crawford is an interesting, albeit frustrating right hander. He has a great fastball, which sits in the mid-90's, and a good slider, but no third pitch. He has a changeup that he's been working on, but if drafted it would need lots of work. Many project that Crawford is a relief pitcher right now, but he's got the upside of a #2 starter if he manages to hit his ceiling. SB Nation scouting report here.
Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts
Another player that could either start or relieve, Gonzalez reminds me a bit of a right-handed Drew Smyly. His ceiling is as a #3 starter due to only above average velocity (he sits in the low-90's). However, he has good command and feel for pitching. He also has cutting action on his fastball and a wicked slider. Gonzalez's development comes down to the change: if he can develop an average changeup, he's a starter. If not, say hello to the bullpen. SB Nation scouting report here
Crawford is one of the best shortstops in a weak class, so he probably won't fall to the Tigers at 20. But if he slips, he's the type of toolsy player they might be interested in. Crawford has good range, good hands and good awareness, and combined with a strong arm can stick at SS long-term. He projects to have a decent bat, with an average hit tool and just below average power. Crawford's also a smart runner, which will help his average speed play up on the basepaths. SB Nation scouting report here.
Phil Bickford, RHP, CA HS
Bickford is a prep right-hander with big velocity, touching 96 on occasion. He sits in the low-90's with good movement on the fastball as well. However, he has no real secondary stuff to speak on, and while the team drafting him will get a premium fastball, that's about all they'll get. Bickford might slip to the second round, but Baseball America seems to think he'd be a tough sign there. SB Nation scouting report here.
Billy McKinney, OF, TX HS
McKinney fits the mold of your prototypical corner outfielder. He's an excellent hitter with good power, and projects to hold down a corner outfield spot in the majors. That said, he won't impress anyone defensively, with a fringy arm and fringy speed. Helping him out is his excellent makeup; Baseball America notes that he seems to go all out constantly, and that helps his tools play up. McKinney is a personal favorite of mine. SB Nation scouting report here.
Hunter Green, LHP, KY HS
A big, projectable lefthander who sits in the low-90's with his fastball, Green reminds me of the type of prep arm the Tigers love. He's got great movement on his fastball, and his curve and change both have potential. Green's more projection at this point; his command needs work, as does his secondary stuff. But he's the type of arm I can see the Tigers taking a risk on. SB Nation scouting report here.
Oscar Mercado, SS, FL HS
Mercado is another prep player that projects to stick at shortstop. He has good hands, a good arm and good instincts defensively. However, his bat fell off sharply in his senior year, and while he projects to have good contact ability and gap power, the disappearing act is a sign of trouble. If I were the Tigers, I wouldn't draft Mercado until the supplemental pick or the second round. Lone Star Ball scouting report here.
Cord Sandberg, OF, FL HS
Sandberg is a two-sport player, having committed to Mississippi State for football. But if he wants to play pro baseball, he's got the ability. He has good raw hitting ability and power, and while he currently profiles as a LF due to weaker reads, he could develop the ability to play CF.
Cory Knebel, RHP, Texas
A college closer from Texas (much like Chance Ruffin), Knebel has a power fastball that touches the upper 90's and a nasty curve. He does have a changeup with potential, so he might work in the rotation, but he has a closer's mentality and could make the Majors quickly.
Chad Pinder, 3B, Virginia Tech
A third baseman with good defensive chops, Pinder could play either third base or second in the Majors. His bat is probably better cut out for second, considering that he's more of a contact hitter and won't hit many home runs in pro baseball. He's the type of polished college bat that the Tigers might go after in the supplemental round if they want to save some money.
Kent Emanuel, LHP, UNC
While Emanuel isn't exactly the power pitcher the Tigers favor, he is a polished college player, and that might cause him to get drafted in the second round. His fastball sits in the upper 80's with movement, and he has a good change along with a workable curve and slider. Emanuel is more of an innings-eater, but he would make good pitching depth for Detroit, and he should move quickly.
Jared King, OF, Kansas State
I'm a sucker for nepotism picks, and seeing as his older brother Jason was drafted by the Tigers in 2011, he counts. King is a switch-hitting outfielder who projects to hit for some power in the big leagues. He has an advanced approach at the plate, though one that keeps some of his raw power untapped. He has some athletic ability as well, and might play in center. King's another guy I've got my eye on.
Thanks to Baseball America and SB Nation for scouting reports.