When it comes to the MLB draft, the Detroit Tigers have been a victim of their own success. Since their resurgence in 2006, the Tigers have had just one losing season. They have won at least 88 games in six of the past nine years, including the last four AL Central Division titles.
While no Tigers fan would trade this for a No. 1 overall pick, their success has hurt their draft position. The Tigers have had just one top-10 pick since 2006, which was used on right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner in 2009. They have forfeited their first round selection four times, including three consecutive years from 2010 to 2012. When they have drafted in the first round, they have often had to wait for 20 or more players to be selected before getting their chance at finding the franchise's next star.
This year is no different. The Tigers have three of the top 65 picks in this year's draft, thanks to a compensation pick they received for departed free agent Max Scherzer. However, their first draft pick is not until the No. 22 overall pick. Several players will be long gone by the time the Tigers make their selection, including most (if not all) of the names below.
Here are the top prospects of the 2015 draft.
Brendan Rodgers - SS, Lake Mary High School (FL)
Viewed by many as the top prospect in this year's draft, Rodgers has an elite combination of offensive upside with power and the defensive chops to stick at shortstop. His quick bat and strong wrists give him potential for plus power at a premium position. His hit tool also projects as plus, a tantalizing combination for a young infielder. Rodgers' arm is good enough to play anywhere in the infield, but many scouts think he has enough athleticism to stick at shortstop long term. He has impressed at every showcase he has attended and is probably a lock to go within the top five picks. Even if he eventually moves to third base, Rodgers could still become a star.
Dansby Swanson - SS, Vanderbilt
Swanson doesn't have the five tool potential that Rodgers does, but he is an excellent athlete who could be the biggest "can't miss" talent in the draft. He has the physical tools and baseball smarts to stick at shortstop, where he should be a solid defender. He has plus speed, which will lead to a healthy amount of stolen bases. Scouts have also raved about his approach at the plate, where he should be an above average hitter. To wit: he is hitting .352/.441/.661 with 13 home runs and 14 stolen bases for the defending national champion Vanderbilt Commodores this season.
There aren't many question marks around Swanson, but he doesn't have the standout tools of a typical top draft pick. This year's class is considered to be weaker than usual, and Swanson probably won't hit for much power at higher levels. Scouts are also concerned about his propensity to swing and miss, but not enough that it will impact his draft stock. In fact, Swanson appears to be the odds-on favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick on Monday night.
Dillon Tate - RHP, UC Santa Barbara
A reliever for his first couple seasons at UCSB, Tate has shot up draft boards after a monster year. He was extremely impressive for Team USA as their closer last summer, and was nearly the Gauchos' closer again this season. An injury pushed Tate into the rotation, and the results have been tremendous. He is 8-4 with a 2.08 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. He has 100 strikeouts on the season, tying him for 30th among all Division I starting pitchers. Tate features the kind of high-octane fastball you would expect out of a top draft pick, and his sharp slider might be an even better offering.
There are questions about his ability to stick in the rotation -- his changeup is nowhere near as developed as the other two offerings and he has a high-effort pitching motion -- but he has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. Some even see his bullpen experience as a positive, as he doesn't have the same mileage on his arm as a typical college starter. The Diamondbacks have also been linked to Tate at No. 1 overall, and their history of successfully developing highly touted power arms (including Max Scherzer) is extensive.
Alex Bregman - SS, LSU
Described by many as a "baseball rat," Bregman is a bit undersized, standing around five feet, nine inches tall. What he lacks in height he makes up for in both effort and skill, a combination that has led to one of the more prolific résumés in this year's draft. Bregman hit .323/.420/.557 for the LSU Tigers this year, earning First-Team All-SEC and First-Team All-America honors. Bregman was also named one of four finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, college baseball's version of the Heisman Trophy.
There is some question over whether Bregman will stick at shortstop at the professional level. His athleticism and range are a bit of an issue, and he may end up sliding over to second base at some point. His bat will play at either middle infield position, though. Bregman is an above average hitter who shows a good eye at the plate and rarely strikes out. In 239 at-bats during the regular season, Bregman fanned just 20 times and drew 36 walks. He doesn't have a lot of power, but can hit doubles in bunches.
Kyle Tucker - OF, Plant High School (FL)
Remember Preston Tucker, the outfielder for the Houston Astros that hit a game-tying home run off Joakim Soria in a 6-5 Tigers victory two weeks ago? Kyle is his younger brother, and is considered by many to be the better prospect. He has some growing to do on his large six foot, four inch frame, but when he fills out, many think he could be a typical No. 3 hitter in the major leagues. He has a classic, uppercut swing that generates plenty of power, but he also makes enough contact to be more than just a slugger at the professional level.
Daz Cameron - OF, Eagles Landing High School (GA)
The son of former MLB outfielder Mike Cameron, Daz is a much different player than his father despite manning a similar position. Daz has shown more bat control than his old man, which projects to a plus hit tool in the future. Scouting reports indicate that he has decent raw power, but his swing doesn't tap into that power quite like his dad's did. Daz is also not as fast as his father was, and won't be as good of a defender. These comparisons are unfair, as Mike Cameron was a legitimate five-tool talent that never quite reached his limitless potential. Daz looks like a future big league center fielder, he just doesn't have the same all-world hype surrounding him. His draft stock as slipped recently, making him the most likely on this list to fall to the Tigers at No. 22 overall.
Tyler Jay - LHP, Illinois
Tigers fans will be overjoyed to know that this college reliever will likely be gone before their team has a chance to draft on Monday. Jay, a flamethrowing lefty with a plus curveball, has been mowing down hitters as Illinois' closer for the past two years. He held opponents to a 0.60 ERA in 60 1/3 innings this season, racking up 14 saves. Jay also struck out 70 batters, the second year in a row he has fanned over a batter per inning. Rumors are swirling that some clubs view Jay as a potential starter at the next level, as he also possesses a changeup that is a work in progress. He would be a bit of a project if moved to the rotation, but one that could pay off in a big way down the road.
Ian Happ - 2B, Cincinnati
A three-year starter for the Bearcats, Happ is considered by many to be the best pure hitter in this year's draft. He is a switch hitter who has drawn more praise for his work from the left side, but his numbers show that he's doing just fine as a righthander as well. Happ hit a staggering .369/.492/.672 in 198 at-bats this year, earning him second-team All-America honors and the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Award. He has hit .320 with a .440 on-base percentage in all three years at Cincinnati.
Happ's solid swing and sneaky power are the main draw, as there are questions about where he will end up defensively. He has played all over the diamond for Cincinnati during his time there, and scouts aren't sure what to make of his evolving skill set. Fangraphs' Kiley McDaniel reported that Happ has lost some of the blazing speed he put on display at the Cape Cod League following his freshman season, making a move to an outfield position a bit more likely.
Carson Fulmer - RHP, Vanderbilt
Fulmer isn't as big and burly as your typical star SEC pitcher, but he has every bit of the velocity. Standing just under six feet tall, Fulmer uses a high-effort delivery to work his fastball up into the mid-90s. He has excellent natural arm strength and speed, but his delivery is nowhere near as smooth as some of the larger pitchers you see throwing "easy gas." The delivery may ultimately push him to the bullpen, but whoever takes him will give him every chance to start first. He has an electric fastball and a power curve that he is good at burying down in the strike zone. Like most SEC pitchers, Fulmer's changeup is a work in progress.
Trenton Clark - OF, Richland High School (TX)
Like many prep players, there is a lot of variance on what Trenton Clark is projected to do. As ESPN put it, "...several scouts I spoke with believe he's a potential top-10 selection who could hit in the middle of the order and play center field, while others see more of an above-average regular who likely has to move to a corner." Clark has an unconventional swing that generates some surprising pop, but it's tough to say how that swing will play once he starts seeing mid-90s heat everyday. He makes the most of his athleticism with good instincts, but he isn't the type of burner you would like to have patrolling center field.