The Detroit Tigers have a reputation for loving hard-throwing college pitchers on draft day, and for good reason. Ever since president and general manager Dave Dombrowski and vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd have been with the organization, the Tigers have stockpiled their farm system with power arms.
However, the Tigers have not been afraid to take a chance on top high school talent, especially in the early rounds of the draft. In 2014, the Tigers drafted Derek Hill, a talented young outfielder from Elk Grove High School in California. Four years earlier, high school shortstop Nick Castellanos was one of the Tigers' selections in the supplemental round of the 2010 draft. Jake Thompson, Jacob Turner, Rick Porcello, Brandon Hamilton, and Cameron Maybin were also top picks out of high school under Chadd's watch.
The Tigers have typically looked for value when taking high school players, so it would not be a surprise to hear many of these names called before Detroit's first pick, at No. 22 overall. However, if someone drops for one reason or another, do not be surprised if the Tigers pounce at the opportunity.
Garrett Whitley - OF, Niskayuna High School (NY)
A talented outfielder from the Northeast who hasn't seen much high-quality pitching outside of draft showcases, Whitley has already drawn comparisons to Mike Trout. He can hit, he can run, and he could go anywhere from No. 1 overall to the middle of the first round. Drafting a player like Whitley is a gamble, but as we have seen with Trout, one that can pay off in a big, big way. He likely won't be around when the Tigers are on the clock, but could be a worthwhile investment if he is.
Tyler Stephenson - C, Kennesaw Mountain High School (GA)
Stephenson is a big catcher in the mold of Matt Wieters and Joe Mauer, and like those two, there has been no talk of moving the 6'4" righthander to a less demanding position. Stephenson has the raw power to play first base, and should fill out a bit more as he grows older. He is a good athlete for his size, however, and scouts like how he moves behind the plate. Stephenson will likely be drafted in the top half of the first round, as he has been linked to both the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves multiple times in mock drafts this spring.
Mike Nikorak - RHP, Stroudsburg High School (PA)
One of several potential first rounders from cold weather states, Nikorak is your typical high school prospect. He has a big fastball and a developing breaking ball, but his changeup needs plenty of work. He is tall and well-built, and has a smooth delivery that helps him work in the 92-94 mile-per-hour range with potential for more gas. There is little reason to believe that he will be available when the Tigers are on the clock, so they would be wise to grab him if he falls down to No. 22.
Kolby Allard - LHP, San Clemente High School (CA)
A lefthander with the ability to touch 97 miles per hour on the radar gun, Allard has loads of potential. He isn't the flamethrowing giant that fellow Californian Justin Hooper is, but scouts love his smooth, repeatable delivery. He was originally projected as one of the top picks in the draft, but will likely fall into the later part of the first round after a back injury sidelined him for a good portion of the high school season.
Nick Plummer - OF, Brother Rice High School (MI)
It's not often that the Tigers can find a first round talent in their own backyard, but 2015 may be the year. Plummer is a bat-first prospect, with some saying he may have one of the best hit tools in the entire draft class. It's difficult to project power in a high school hitter, but at 5'10" and 200 pounds, Plummer is already a solidly developed individual who should hit for both average and power at the professional level.
Chris Betts - C, Wilson High School (CA)
One of two first round caliber talents in a draft devoid of many standout catching prospects, Betts doesn't have the defensive tools that Stephenson does. Betts projects to hit for both average and power at the professional level, and he has above average arm strength as well. He may eventually move to first base down the line.
Brady Aiken - LHP, IMG Academy (FL)
Aiken was last year's No. 1 overall pick, but concerns about the size of his UCL during medical testing led the Houston Astros to renege on an earlier contract agreement. Aiken rebuffed the lower offer, and decided to take a prep year at the IMG Academy instead. Fast forward a few months, and the UCL the Astros were worried about gave in. Aiken had Tommy John surgery in March, but there are still questions about his medical status. Aiken is a risk, but there are things to like about getting a top-of-the-draft talent in the late first round if he drops that far.
Cornelius Randolph - SS, Griffin High School (GA)
Keith Law projected that the Tigers would select Randolph at No. 22 overall in one of his mock drafts this spring, and there is a lot to like about that pick. A left-handed bat with potential to hit for both average and power, Randolph likely won't play shortstop at the next level. Scouts love his arm strength, so sliding over to third base may be the next move for the talented 18-year-old.
Donny Everett - RHP, Clarksville High School (TN)
Standing a stocky 6'2", Everett fits the mold of the big, burly SEC power pitcher that the Tigers have consistently targeted on draft day over the years. While Everett hasn't pitched in college yet, he is currently committed to Vanderbilt, but should have no reason to turn down a first rounder's signing bonus. His fastball is currently way ahead of his other offerings, which is to be expected with most high school pitchers at this point.
Ke'Bryan Hayes - 3B, Concordia Lutheran High School (TX)
The son of ex-big leaguer Charlie Hayes, Ke'Bryan has the MLB bloodlines that teams love. He is a solid hitter with a good approach at the plate who likes to spray line drives to all fields. That line drive swing is almost viewed as a fault at this point, however, as Hayes has the frame to hit for more power than he has shown so far. Still, there is a lot to like about a player with a plus hit tool and the baseball IQ that Hayes has.
Ashe Russell - RHP, Cathedral High School (IN)
Despite a low-three-quarters arm slot that is more reminiscent of a bullpen arm than an ace-caliber pitcher, Russell has the potential to be a frontline starter. His delivery gives his pitches plenty of movement, including a two-seam fastball that induces plenty of weak contact. He has the big frame that teams love in their starting pitchers, and will get ample opportunities to remain in the rotation at the next level.
Justin Hooper - De La Salle High School (CA)
Originally projected as one of the top prep arms in this year's draft class, Hooper has not generated as much buzz as other players on this list lately. There is plenty to dream about with him, though. Standing 6'7" with a fastball that can hit 97 miles per hour, Hooper has ace potential. However, there are questions about his ability to repeat his mechanics and whether he will be able to develop his secondary pitches, making it just as likely that he ends up in the bullpen down the road.