It was a bit difficult to push myself in front of the computer during yesterday's off-day, so we're a little behind with our MLB Draft coverage. Thanks to Grant E. for posting information about the Tigers' first few selections in the Off-Day Open Thread. I appreciate him picking up some slack.
As you probably know, Detroit's first-round pick was pitcher Ryan Perry from the University of Arizona. This past season with the Wildcats, Perry posted a 6-3 record and 3.07 ERA, with 69 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings. Maybe some of you got a look at him last weekend when he pitched in the Ann Arbor regional of the NCAA Baseball Tournament. (I wanted to catch a game or two, but jet lag kept me down.)
I don't know where Perry was on the Tigers' draft board, but I can't imagine they were thrilled (despite statements to the contrary) to see both Andrew Cashner and Josh Fields go with the two picks before theirs. (And any thoughts on possibly getting a catcher ended after the first 10 picks, which was surely expected.) What's the scuttlebutt on Perry?
ESPN.com's Keith Law:
Perry touched 100 mph in the NCAA Regional last weekend. He was consistently at 94-98 mph on the Cape last summer. Arizona tried to make him a starter, but it didn't work. He has the best stuff of any closer prospect in the draft. Given the Tigers' bullpen situation, Perry might be the first player in the draft to make it to the majors this year.
Scouts say Perry's fastball, while a plus-plus pitch for its velocity, lacks deception and hitters sit on it, especially when he's starting and struggles to locate his offspeed stuff. When he's going well, he adds a second plus pitch in a slider that one scout compared to that of Phillies closer Brad Lidge. Perry's changeup shows enough potential to make scouts consider him as a starter, but he's been much more effective out of the bullpen. His fastball lacks life and needs the extra velocity he gets out of the bullpen.
Maybe someone can explain to me what "plus-plus" means in the comments. I'm going to assume that's pretty good.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo:
More than one scout has scratched his head about the Arizona right-hander, who has a plus fastball up to 98 mph, a plus changeup and a slider that is a plus at times. Despite this arsenal, he's been hittable due to a tendency to open up on his delivery too early and keep balls up in the zone.
Two different quotes from Baseball Prospectus's Kevin Goldstein. First, pre-draft:
He has more velocity than any of the other college bullpen arms, but some scouts are concerned about the straightness of his pitch, and his overall numbers are hardly dominating.
Then after the Tigers' selection:
If you haven't figured it out yet, Detroit scouting directior David Chadd likes big guys who throw really hard. Don't be shocked in the Tigers take it slow with Perry and try to start him.
In the same chat, here's BP's Bryan Smith:
Ryan Perry was, simply, not good enough to earn an invitation to the Cape Cod League last summer. However, when a different Arizona reliever needed to drop out of the league, Arizona coach Andy Lopez pushed for the Orleans Cardinals to take Perry instead. They did, and Perry might not have thrown a fastball less than 95 mph all summer.
The presumption seems to be that the Tigers may have drafted a reliever who could possibly help them out later this season. I'd say that's a stretch, however. (Though I think it's curious that they opted for Perry over Gerrit Cole, who seems to be more the type of guy they've favored in past years.) Both Mayo and Goldstein think that Perry could eventually develop into a starting pitcher (which has Chadd comparing him to pitchers like Jonathan Papelbon and Joba Chamberlain), so it'll be interesting to see what Detroit has in mind for him.
Let's end the blockquote parade with a funny quote from the Tigers' scouting director:
"I think I saw Ryan Perry this spring more than I saw my wife."
When I saw that Al Avila's son was drafted in the fifth round, I thought "Aren't the nepotism picks reserved for the second day?" But judging from Alex Avila's stats, he wasn't just selected as a favor for his father. Not only does he fill a crying need at catcher in the minor league system, but he can swing the bat, as well. Last year with the Crimson Tide, Avila hit .343/.441/.615 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs, both of which led the team.
UPDATE: If you'd like to see Perry pitch, you should get a chance this evening, as Arizona plays Miami in the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals at 7 p.m. on ESPN.