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Rick Porcello Does Not Scare the Detroit Tigers

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Give some dap to Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. He had it right in his mock draft.

With their first-round draft pick (#27 overall), the Detroit Tigers selected Rick Porcello - out of Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, NJ - was considered to be the top high school pitcher available. He was Baseball America's third-rated prospect. ESPN.com's Keith Law had him ranked #4 in his Top 100. In his mock draft, BP's Bryan Smith had Porcello going #2 overall to the Royals, as did MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.

In his senior year, Porcello won the Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award, and with only the state finals remaining to be played, he has a 9-0 record with a 1.22 ERA, along with 103 strikeouts and 13 walks in 63 innings.

Signability was obviously a factor in such a player sliding down that far to the Tigers. For the second year in a row, that's helped them get a pitcher that wasn't expected to be available at their selection. Contract numbers like $7 million are being thrown around. The unfairness of that is troublesome, as you'd like to see the top talent go to the teams that arguably need it the most. But I suppose my concerns can only go so far when it helps out the Tigers.

Porcello's choice in agents, Scott Boras, clearly scared off many teams who don't want to meet the sort of financial demands and endure the types of negotiations he's notoriously known for. The Tigers, however, have a good relationship with Boras, having signed a couple of his clients - Pudge Rodriguez and Magglio Ordonez - to huge contracts. Kenny Rogers is also a part of Team Boras. Gary Sheffield, not so much. But he's his own man, as we know.

So what can Tigers fans expect from Porcello? The names "Josh Beckett" and "Justin Verlander" were mentioned frequently on ESPN2's telecast after he was selected. Goldstein made the Beckett comparison as well. What are other amateur baseball experts and observers saying about Porcello?

Minor League Ball's John Sickels:

If you could design a "perfect" high school pitching prospect, it would be hard to beat Porcello. He's tall and lanky...6-5, 190... with some projection left in his body. He's athletic. He already throws 93-94 MPH, hitting 96-98 at times. His curveball and slider are both very good pitches. His changeup wasn't very good last year according to my sources, but has really improved this season, giving him four pitches that should be above-average, or better, at the major league level. Control, an issue in the past, has also taken a major step forward this year. He's very intelligent, with a 3.94 GPA for Seton Hall Prep.

Keith Law:

Potential front-of-the-rotation guy with a few minor tweaks needed in his delivery so he can maximize his stuff. Calling card is a mid-90s fastball with good, late tailing action. Throws two curveballs; will raise his arm slot slightly to get on top of them. Better CB is 79-80, a sharp downer with a very late break. Changeup has a chance; good fading action, but he slows arm a little bit. Repeats his delivery well and gets his whole body moving forward in one motion. Good athlete, very quick off the mound. Would like to see him stay over the rubber longer and possibly cleaned up in the back.

Joe Sheehan:

With a four-seam fastball that sits in the 95 MPH range and a two-seam fastball with movement, Porcello dominated high school hitters this spring. On the season he went 9-0 with a 1.44 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 13 walks in 63 innings. His easy delivery and good mechanics don't lend themselves to injuries and he has a projectable body. One of the knocks on Porcello heading into this season was his control, but he showed excellent command this spring, allaying that fear.

Something that could make this a nerve-racking negotiation for the Tigers is a new universal signing date. All draft picks now have to sign by August 15 or their rights are relinquished and they can be drafted again next year. Previously - such as with Justin Verlander - teams had until a week before either the next year's draft or the player enrolled in college classes. Porcello signed a letter of intent with the University of North Carolina, and that will surely be used as leverage.

UPDATES:

With their pick (60th overall) in the supplemental round (which compensates teams who have lost free agents - I believe I have that right), the Tigers took another high school pitcher: Brandon Hamilton from Stanhope Elmore in Millbrook, AL.

In the second round (91st overall), Detroit selected shortstop Danny Worth out of Pepperdine University.

Next in the third round (120th overall) was Luke Putkonen, a pitcher from the University of North Carolina. (What's up with all these Tar Heels, man?)

For their fourth round pick (151st overall), the Tigers again went with a college pitcher, selecting Charlie Furbush, a left-hander from LSU.

And Detroit ended Day 1 of the draft by taking their fourth pitcher of the day in the fifth round. Again, the Tigers went with a prep prospect, picking Casey Crosby from Kaneland High School in Maple Park, IL. (Crosby has signed a letter of intent with the University of Illinois.)