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AL Central Review: Is there a window open? I feel a draft.

The Tigers remain in first place in the AL Central despite dropping some close games with the Pirates. Meanwhile the Royals shook up the coaching staff and the Twins reeled in a sweep of the Brewers. This week, we take a look at the upcoming Rule 4 Draft happening in the coming days.


The week of May 24-30 in the AL Central saw the Tigers remain in first place despite dropping three of four to the run-stingy Pirates. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals continued to sink into a mostly homer-free abyss while "re-assigning" their two hitting coaches back to the minors to bring legendary Royal George Brett into the mix to save the day.

Next week is a big deal for every club. The Rule 4 Draft is taking place and three teams in the Central pick in Top 8 and all of them are in the top 20. Some major amateur talent is going to be brought into the respective organizations despite the whispers of it being "a weak draft year" among those who study such matters. Let's take a look.

Detroit Tigers (29-23 overall, 3-4 on the week)

Next UP: 3 at Baltimore, 3 home w/Tampa Bay

Synopsis of the Week: Great pitching, no runs scored. The Pirates pitching staff didn't allow the Tigers to maintain any momentum off their series win over the Twins. Two ... yes, TWO, losses in the extra-innings by a score of 1-0. When you think you've seen it all.

Recent first-round picks:

2010- Hmmm...

2011- Did I miss it?

2012- Well...

Let's just say the Tigers have been using free agency liberally the last few years and their success on the field is something they can point to favorably over the lack of No. 1 picks. The Tigers have sacrificed their top picks in each of the last three drafts by signing top tier free agents. Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez, and Prince Fielder were the players signed in exchange for the three number one's. It probably requires it's own column, but forgoing the picks to get these guys was probably worth it in the end. Next week will be the Tigers first time choosing in round one since netting Jacob Turner in 2009.

Prediction for the 20th overall pick: OF Aaron Judge, Fresno State

The Tigers have been linked by some observers to the big, yet mobile, Judge. 6-7, 250 pounds with a power packed swing. There could be a ton of holes in the swing ... but the Tigers will bet on the power being real.

Other: Amateur talent maven Kiley McDaniel links the Tigers with Shortstop Tim Anderson (East Central CC)

Cleveland Indians (29-24 overall, 2-5 on the week)

Next UP: 3 home w/Tampa Bay, 3 at New York Yankees

Synopsis of the week: The glow came off their 18-4 run rather quickly as a losing streak hit the Tribe before rebounding to take the last two games with the Reds. Losing Chris Perez for a while shouldn't be a big deal if Vinny Pestano is healthy.

Recent first-round picks:

2010: Drew Pomeranz RHP (dealt for Ubaldo Jimenez)

2011: Francisco Lindor SS (looks like a gem and future cornerstone talent)

2012: Tyler Naquin OF (solid start at Advanced A this season has things looking good initially)

Prediction for the fifth overall pick: 3B Colin Moran, UNC

The Tribe might in position to score the best hitter in college baseball. You should always draft "Best Available Player" in the opinion of most and I completely agree...but Moran also fits because the third-base situation in Cleveland isn't great. Moran could move fast and see the majors in short order.

Chicago White Sox (24-27 overall, 3-3 on the week)

Next UP: 3 at Oakland, 3 at Seattle, 1 home w/Oakland

Synopsis of the Week: Sweeping the Marlins. Good. Getting broomed by the Cubs. Bad.

Recent First-Round Picks:

2010: Chris Sale RHP (seems to be working out nicely to say the least)

2011: No Pick

2012: Courtney Hawkins OF (showing some power in Advanced-A but little else)

Prediction for the 17th overall pick: Marco Gonzalez, LHP Gonzaga

Gonzalez seems to have the kind of stuff that can move quickly and surface in the majors without a ton of grooming. Drew Smyly pops to mind.

Minnesota Twins (23-28 overall, 5-2 on the week)

Next UP: 3 at home with Seattle, 3 at Kansas City

Synopsis of the Week: The Brew-Crew ended up being a nice tonic for all that ails the Twins. The Twins averaged 6 runs per game against Milwaukee for the 4-game sweep. There is also a rumor that Twins starting pitching struck out a batter. I'm not sure I believe it.

Recent first-round picks:

2010: Alex Wimmers RHP (injuries have stalled his progress)

2011: Levi Michael SS (currently repeating Advanced A with no offensive success)

2012: Byron Buxton OF (all early indications are that they drafted a major stud)

Prediction for the fourth overall pick: Kohl Stewart RHP St. Pius HS Texas

Everyone -- well, close to everyone -- has the Twins taking Stewart. Why fight it? They'll need to convince him to skip football at Texas A&M but a fat check should do it.

Kansas City Royals (22-29 overall, 1-6 on the week)

Next UP: 3 at Texas, 3 home with Minnesota

Synopsis of the Week: Having George Brett pronounce in his presser as the new hitting coach that "homers can kill rallies" was hilarious. Then having a homer spark a game winning rally in Brett's first game was priceless.

Recent first-round picks:

2010: Christian Colon SS (looking like a major overdraft now)

2011: Bubba Starling OF (the local prep phenom isn't really impressing yet)

2012: Kyle Zimmer RHP (carrying a 5+ ERA in Advanced A but striking out 11 batters per 9. Time will tell)

Prediction for the eighth overall pick: Ryne Stanek RHP Arkansas

The "Next Aaron Crow." Stanek seems like a starting pitching prospect destined for a bullpen given his command issues. The Royals know the drill from taking Crow (and Luke Hochevar for that matter as "Hoch" is now a reliever). Will they fall in that trap again?

More Roars:

Pirates 1, Tigers 0: Next verse same as the first

Friday’s links

Cabrera, Davis and the quest for a second crown

Month in review: Pitcher face edition

Extending Austin Jackson makes sense