I'll be sitting in on the Tigers conference call for the first round pick today. Below are my notes from the call.
David Chadd, Vice President of Amateur Scouting/Special Assistant to the General Manager
Scott Pleis, Director of Amateur Scouting
Jonathon Crawford, pitcher, Detroit Tigers
Question: David and Scott, what did you see in Crawford?
Chadd: Crawford is a power RHP that can go out and be successful as a starter. We took his whole body of work into consideration, and that's what attracted us to Crawford. Threw 20 innings against Team Cuba and had a successful summer with Team USA, and looking at the whole body of work, our decision was easier.
Henning: Mechanics, third pitch?
Chadd: With any player, there are always adjustments. Rare to find a guy as talented as Crawford who brings a high-90's FB and good slider, Tigers saw the changeup. Crawford brings the two pitch mix for sure, which is why we liked him.
Question: Crawford, what was the draft process like?
Crawford: Great process, had friends over and they roared when he was picked. Models himself after good athletes in Tom Brady, Roy Oswalt and Justin Verlander.
Question: Were you surprised by anything in the draft?
Chadd: Nothing surprised me; the draft unfolded like they thought it would. Lined draft up on ability as they always do.
Question: With Knebel, is he a starter or a reliever?
Chadd: No, Knebel can start. He has two plus pitches, but three overall so he can start. Texas put him in the closers role because he could dominate, but he's a starter. Saw him with a power fastball up to 97 and a power overhand curveball. In a bullpen situation, we did see the changeup and he does have a slider but he didn't use it at Texas. Only needed the fastball and curveball to get outs at Texas.
Question: Kevin Ziomek?
Chadd: Another lefthanded starter with two good pitches. His fastball sits 90-92, touches 94. Similarities to Smyly with success in the SEC.
Question: How important was drafting lefthanders?
Chadd: Any time you can draft a quality lefthander, you do it, especially at the top of the draft
Question: Crawford, talk about your chance now to work with Justin Verlander. What attracted you to him?
Crawford: Verlander goes out and gives it his all every day on the mound and I admire that. I'm looking forward to picking his brain.
Question: David and Scott, could you talk about Knebel's makeup?
Chadd: The Tigers have done due diligence with on and off field makeup and extremely comfortable with abilities. Knebel isn't going to be a problem in the future.
Question: Crawford, talk about the progress you made this season with pressure on you.
Crawford: Big challenge, while I could have dealt with it better, I think I dealt with it pretty well. Tried to focus on getting better in the fall and working on the change, and going out in spring to win games for the team. I feel I can get outs with the change if I pick my spots.
Question: Crawford, what did Florida do to help you?
Crawford: Coaching staff is full of great guys that push you every day. If you go to UF, you're going to get amazing coaches that will make you much better.
Question: Chadd, could you talk about philsophy with pitching mechanics?
Chadd: Any time you're evaluating amateur pitchers, you want players with the cleanest mechanics possible. Whenever we evaluate pitchers, we're looking for clean deliveries with simple arm action.
Question: Chadd, could you talk about how the first round pick will help the organization? Plies, what's with the SEC focus?
Chadd: Exciting for the amateur department, but giving up picks in the last few years has helped the organization. It's a give and take; we're excited we have the picks, and yesterday was a fun day.
Pleis: SEC is one of the better leagues out there, and seeing the guys compete at that level helps us evaluate competitiveness.
Question: Chadd, how much will this draft bring talent back into the system and restoring depth to pitching ranks?
Chadd: The Tigers feel great about their three selections. College pitchers are more advanced, and they did not set up the board that way. All three will start in Connecticut as starters, pending conversations with the GM.
Question: How do you balance college play and summer play?
Chadd: Definitely think there's a balance. when you see things in the summer that you don't see in the spring, you at least know you've seen it. Plus, in the summer, players are facing better competition.