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Who Might the Tigers Pick in the 2012 First Year Player Draft?

Picking at #91 places draftniks like myself in a difficult spot. It's nearly impossible to project exactly what the Tigers will do with a spot in the supplemental round, and when your first pick is in the second round, things get even tougher. What we can do, however, is speculate wildly based on what the Tigers have done in the past.

Okay, it's not the most productive exercise, but it sure is fun to look at some of the guys that might be available. David Chadd's track record indicates that he likes drafting college relief pitchers and college position players in the middle rounds, so it's unlikely we'll see any high school talent unless someone great falls. The new slot bonus rules also indicate that the Tigers probably won't go over-slot to sign someone, so the Tigers probably won't make a huge splash here. Still, there are some solid guys on the board. Let's go over some of the most promising ones.

Preston Beck, OF, University of Texas, Arlington

I'm very fond of Preston Beck; in fact, he's one of my favorite players in this year's draft (that wasn't expected to be a first-rounder). A junior, Beck fits the mold as a right-fielder, with enough range for the position and a very good arm. Beck has a good left-handed bat, with his hit tool being the strongest thing he has to offer. That said, Beck has decent power and if he hits his ceiling could be a prototypical right fielder. Beck's value will primarily come from his bat, and as a college outfielder from a program that develops good outfielders (namely Hunter Pence and 2010's 10th overall pick Michael Choice), Beck could be a nice bet for a college bat with some upside.

Alex Wood, LHP, Georgia

Wood is a prototypical David Chadd pick: he's a big guy who throws hard. Wood stands 6'4" and has a plus fastball that sits in the low 90's and occasionally touches 96. Both his change and his curve need work, and probably only grade out as major league average in the end, but that's enough potential for Wood to be useful. Given his injury history (Tommy John surgery) and iffy secondary stuff, Wood might end up as a relief pitcher, but he's an interesting risk.

Nolan Fontana, SS/2B, Florida

Fontana is the type of infielder the Tigers seem to love; solid upside with a high floor. While Baseball America ranked Fontana 46th overall, he did not go on Day One of the draft, which could open things up for the Tigers. A college junior, Fontana is a safe bet who can take a pitch and has strong, patient at bats. None of his tools are particularly overwhelming, but he can hit for a decent average, has the ability to punish mistakes and is aggressive on the bases so that his average speed plays up. Defensively, Fontana is average, but he has very strong makeup and could make a very, very good utility player or a nice starter at second base.

Branden Kline, RHP, Virginia

Kline is an interesting pitcher to me. A potential bullpen piece with a low-90's fastball, his breaking stuff has been inconsistent and reports differ as to whether his curve or slider will be his breaking pitch of choice in pro ball. That said, he was moved to the closer role at Virginia due to need, and Baseball America reports that he could be a mid-rotation starter if a team can clean up his funky delivery. He could be an interesting pick, and he's the type of college reliever I'd enjoy picking- one that has a shot at a job in the rotation.

Nolan Sanburn, RHP, Arkansas

I hesitated putting Sanburn on this list, but given that the Tigers have a perplexing history of picking relief pitchers high in the draft, I figured that he'd be worth a mention. Sanburn projects as a potential closer because of his power arm. His fastball sits in the mid-90's and he can blow the thing by hitters. His curve has some serious bite to it as well, though he has command issues. The arm is relatively young (he played outfield in high school) but he's a gamer with closer mentality.

Tony Renda, 2B, California

I really want to call Tony Renda "Scott Sizemore Redux", but that would make some people around here gag pretty violently. Renda's elicited some Dustin Pedroia comparisons, but frankly that's just because he's a small second baseman who can drive the ball a bit. In reality, Renda's got good (but not great) tools across the board, and he should hit for a decent average with gap power. While his tools are okay for the position, Renda's not known for his defense. That said, his tools are good enough to keep him at second long-term. Just don't expect Gold Gloves.

Fernando Perez, 3B, Arizona JUCO

Perez is a very young player (who really should be a senior in high school) who put up some eyepopping numbers at his junior college (Central Arizona). The bad news is that Perez probably won't stay at third base; he has the range and arm for right now, but it is fringy. The good news is that his hit tool is very good (BA calls it average to plus) and he projects to have at least average power. If he can stick at third base, he would be a very good regular. If not, he may have the offensive ability to play in the outfield.

Alec Rash, RHP, Iowa HS

Rash, in many ways, reminds me of the guys that David Chadd would go after in early rounds. Rash is a prep pitcher with a good fastball that currently sits in the low 90's (touching 95 on occasion) with movement, a slider that flashes plus and a change that has some potential. The problem (and there is always a problem at this stage in the draft) is that his command is atrocious. Rash is a boom-or-bust player; if a team believes it can fix his command issues, he'll go early. If not, he'll go to college.