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MLB Draft retrospective: James McCann headlines a poor 2011 draft class for Tigers

The 2011 MLB draft could produce a windfall for the Tigers, but not because of the players they selected.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 MLB amateur player draft is set to take place on June 9, so we figured this would be a good time to take a look back and see how the Detroit Tigers did five years ago in the draft. Five years is about the right time for a first review of a particular draft class, since the players chosen that season should all have found spots on a major league club's 40-man roster. If not, they have been exposed in the Rule 5 draft at least once, if not twice by now.

Last year, BYB took a look back at recent Tigers' drafts, and the results were not pretty. The Tigers had drafted just one 10-win player (according to rWAR) since 2005. That player was Rick Porcello, who was selected in the first round of the 2007 draft. The Tigers have only picked one other five-win player during this stretch: starter Drew Smyly. Since 2008, the Tigers hadn't drafted a single five-win player.

It hasn't helped that the Tigers lost their first round selections in 2010, 2011, and 2012, for signing Jose Valverde, Victor Martinez, and Prince Fielder, respectively, as free agents. However, when your top 10 list of draft selections over a 12-year period includes names like Andy Dirks and Casper Wells, something is amiss with your player selection.

James McCann was the Tigers' first selection in 2011, taken in the second round, 76th overall. He is the only player from this draft class on the Tigers' 25-man roster today. However, 10th round pick Curt Casali has amassed the highest WAR total, with 1.0 to McCann's 0.3. As the Tigers' starting catcher, McCann figures to build value quicker than any other player selected in this draft by Detroit. Tyler Collins is the only other player selected who has spent time in the major leagues and is still in the Tigers' organization.

Round Player POS MLB Games rWAR Could Have Taken
2 James McCann C 142 0.3 Mookie Betts
6 Tyler Collins OF 88 -0.5 Marcus Semien
7 Brian Flynn P 11 -0.9 Ken Giles
10 Curt Casali C 102 0.9 Kelby Tomlinson
17 Chad Smith P 12 -0.2 Nick Martinez
28 Guido Knudson P 4 -0.3 Kevin Pillar
- Totals - 359 -0.7 -

Three relief pitchers have spent time in the major leagues, but each has been below replacement level during their limited amount of work. Brian Flynn was a seventh round selection who was traded to the Marlins with Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner in the deal that brought Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to Detroit. Flynn is now in the Kansas City Royals' bullpen.

Chad Smith was taken in the 17th round out of USC. He worked 11 innings for the Tigers during the 2014 season, but was designated for assignment and lost on waivers before the next season.  Guido Knudson earned his way up to Detroit in 2015, made four appearances, and was also lost on waivers during the offseason. He is now in the Pittsburgh Pirates' organization.

That's it for Tigers drafted in 2011 who have made it to the major leagues. Montreal Robertson gets an honorable mention for being added to the 40-man roster prior to last December's Rule 5 draft, but he cleared waivers and was outrighted following an ankle injury that will sideline him for the 2016 season. The 26th ranked Tigers' prospect by prior to this season, Robertson was eligible, but not selected in the 2015 Rule 5 draft.

The first player selected overall in 2011 was pitcher Geritt Cole, by the Pirates. Jose Fernandez, the No 14 pick by the Marlins and Sonny Gray, taken 18th by the Oakland Athletics, are the top performers from the 2011 draft.  Of the 60 players selected in the first and supplemental first rounds of the draft, just 31 have made it to the major leagues so far, and only 17 of those have accumulated at least 1.0 rWAR.

Ironically, the Tigers got their best players from the 2011 draft via trades. Michael Fulmer was selected by the New York Mets with the 44th overall selection, and his major league career has just begun in Detroit. Daniel Norris was taken in the second round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Turns out, the 2011 draft wasn't such a bust for the Tigers after all.