Most people think that the Tigers draft in a predictable fashion: sign an expensive, elite young player with your first pick and then maybe make a splash with a second or third rounder. Promptly spend the rest of the draft picking lower upside players, college guys who have the career upside of a fourth outfielder or utility infielder.
That model isn't too far off from reality. David Chadd, longtime Tigers scouting director, has made a succesful career out of this strategy. But with a farm system that hasn't made the top half of the Baseball America farm system Talent Rankings since 2007 (and only three times since 2003, peaking at 12) now could be a good time for a change. And change is just what the Tigers did last fall, by hiring two former scouting directors: Eddie Bane and Tim Hallgren, while shaking up the player development office via some promotions.
Two men were promoted within the Tigers organization. Former scouting director David Chadd was promoted to vice-president for amateur scouting, and former cross-checker Scott Pleis was promoted to scouting director. This move expands Chadd's role while leaving him with large amounts of say in selecting early-round picks.But the new hires may be more interesting to look at.
Eddie Bane was the scouting director for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2004-2010. During that time, Bane oversaw one of the cheapest drafting teams in Major League Baseball, but with somewhat positive results. Bane favors talented up the middle players, and in particular high school and junior college players. Bane will be serving as a major league scout for Detroit in 2011, which will limit his input on the draft.
The other acquisition was that of Tim Hallgren, former Dodgers scouting director, who was made national-crosschecker (the crosschecker is the guy who all the other scouts report to- he's second in command in the scouting department). Hallgren worked under the legendary Logan White, and while White continued to run drafts even while Hallgren served as scouting director, being a lieutenant in one of the best player development teams in baseball and serving under one of the best drafters in baseball in Logan White, makes you a worthwhile acquisition. The Dodgers were notably successful in later rounds under Hallgren's tenure, selecting players like top prospect Dee Gordon and Andrew Lambo in the fourth round of the draft.
So what do these moves mean to the Tigers going into the 2011 First-Year Player Draft? While it is important to remember that the general manager is ultimately the man responsible for making draft decisions, the scouting staff has a major impact on those decisions. Moving Chadd into a larger role that makes him less responsible for later draft selections in addition to acquiring Hallgren to serve as crosschecker could mean that the Tigers are moving in a different direction, one that emphasizes higher upside players in the later rounds of the draft. Nothing is guaranteed, and it wouldn't shock me at all if the Tigers selected college players and relievers with middle-round picks as they normally do. But the climate for change certainly exists. We'll find out one way or another on Tuesday.