If all the pre-draft rankings and mock draft projections are to be believed, the Detroit Tigers did not get good value for the draft positions when they made three selections on the first day of the 2015 Major League Baseball amateur player draft.
With their first round selection, No. 22 overall, the Tigers selected high school pitcher Beau Burrows, a hard throwing righthander who is thought to be several years away from sniffing any major league action. He was rated No. 30 overall by MLB.com, No. 33 by Baseball America, No. 46 by ESPN’s Keith Law, and 40th by Scout.com.
The Tigers had another selection in the compensation round at No. 34 overall because they lost Max Scherzer to free agency. They selected Tennessee outfielder Christin Stewart, who projects as a left fielder because of defensive limitations. He has plus power and on-base ability, but has limited running and fielding ability. Scout.com ranked Stewart No. 43, while Law had him at No. 64. MLB.com rated him 66th, and Baseball America ranked Stewart 84th.
Detroit’s second round selection was perhaps the most puzzling of all. The Tigers took left-handed pitcher Tyler Alexander, a sophomore at TCU. Alexander didn’t crack Law’s top 100, nor MLB.com’s 100 highest ranked players, nor Scout.com’s rankings. MLB.com has video of every player selected on day one -- with the exception of Tyler Alexander. He was ranked No. 327 by Baseball America, but the Tigers selected him with the 65th overall pick in the draft.
The Tigers passed on some interesting prospects with their first round selections. Brother Rice High School’s Nick Plummer, who was ranked as high as No. 11 by Baseball America, was still on the board, and was chosen by the St. Louis Cardinals with the selection immediately after Detroit chose Burrows. Right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser, Baseball America's No. 14 overall player, was available for both of the Tigers’ first two selections, but they passed. Other players rated among the top 20 players in the draft were also available for both selections.
|Pick||Player||POS||School||Slot bonus recommendation||Mlb.com||Baseball America||ESPN||Scout||Fangraphs|
|22||Beau Burrows||RHP||Weatherford H.S. (TX)||$2,154,200||30||33||46||40||42|
|65||Tyler Alexander||LHP||Texas Christian||$ 949,900||NR||327||NR||NR||NR|
We are all aware that the major league draft is a crapshoot, and even a first round selection has just an even chance of producing at least 1.0 wins above replacement (WAR) within five years of signing a contract. It’s possible that the Tigers scouting department saw some things in these players that other scouts missed. Pretending to know how these prospects will pan out is a fool’s errand.
It is also possible that the Tigers’ plan was to draft players who will be easily signed -- perhaps even for an amount below the slot recommendations -- freeing up cash for other expenditures either in the later rounds of the draft or on the international market when the signing period begins on July 2nd. It could be that the organization believes they can get better value by spreading the bonus money across a quantity of players.
In any case, the players selected on Monday won’t be saddled with unreasonably high expectations as they begin their professional careers. From among the many selected, a team just needs a few good players to call the draft a success.