Trading prospects for major league talent has been commonplace with the Detroit Tigers in recent years. As with the 2010 and 2011 drafts, the Tigers did not have a first round draft selection in 2012, and they will not get much production from players whom they drafted directly. But following the prospects who were flipped to other teams, the 2012 draft may yet show production for the Tigers.
Drew VerHagen is the only player selected by the Tigers in the 2012 draft who has played in Detroit. The 23-year-old righthanded pitcher from Vanderbilt made his major league debut in 2014 as a starter, was converted to relief work and returned in 2015 to work 26 innings with a 2.05 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He began the 2016 season making 19 relief appearances before being optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Devon Travis is the only other player selected by the Tigers in the 2012 draft to play in the major leagues thus far. Travis, a 13th round selection out of Florida State, became the Tigers’ top prospect, according to Baseball America. He was then dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Anthony Gose. Despite missing time on the disabled list, Travis has hit .298/.354/.484/ .838 with nine home runs, 40 RBI, and 2.6 rWAR in 70 career games for the Jays. Meanwhile, Gose has over 1,200 major league plate appearances at age 25, but was optioned to Triple-A because of a lack of productivity this season.
Here is how the Tigers top 11 picks in the 2012 draft have fared.
|Round||POS||Player||Highest Level (Last season played)|
|2||RHP||Jake Thompson||AAA - Phillies|
|3||OF||Austin Schotts||High-A Lakeland (2015)|
|4||RHP||Drew VerHagen||MLB - Tigers|
|5||LHP||Joe Rogers||High-A Lakeland|
|6||LHP||Jordan John||High-A Lakeland (2014)|
|7||RHP||Hudson Randall||High-A Lakeland (2013)|
|8||OF||Jeff McVaney||AAA Toledo|
|9||OF||Jake Stewart||Single-A West Michigan (2013)|
|10||RHP||Charlie Gillies||High-A Lakeland (2013)|
|11||C||Bennett Pickar||Single-A West Michigan (2014)|
|12||RHP||Julio Felix||High-A Lakeland (2015)|
By any standards, the 2012 class is thin on production. From the first 25 rounds, only seven players are still in pro ball. Five are in the Tigers' organization, while two have played in the majors, and none are currently on the Tigers' major league roster.
Jake Thompson was the Tigers first selection in the 2012 draft, taken in the second round, and is one of three high school players drafted by Detroit through the first 25 rounds. Thompson was the Tigers’ top starting pitching prospect when he was dealt, along with Corey Knebel, to the Texas Rangers for Joakim Soria before the 2014 trade deadline. Thompson entered the 2015 season as Baseball America's No. 43 prospect. He was the Phillies No. 3 prospect after the 2015 season.
While Detroit was in desperate need of bullpen help, and Soria helped them to hold off the Kansas City Royals to win their fourth straight division title, the trade cost seemed very steep. Soria’s value was limited by injuries and managerial misuse, but he spent half a season as the team’s closer before being flipped to the Pittsburgh Pirates in July 2015 for Jacoby Jones. Therein lies the Tigers’ best chance to net something valuable from the 2012 draft.
Joshua Turley, a left-handed knuckle ball pitcher, was selected by Detroit in the 16th round from Baylor. MLB.com ranked him the Tigers' No. 30 prospect heading into 2016. We projected that Turley may be added to the 40-man roster last November, but he was left unprotected and went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft. After posting a 3.23 ERA over 153 innings at Erie in 2015, he has struggled this season, and his forecast remains cloudy.
Austin Schotts was the Tigers’ third round selection in 2012 out of high school. He never made it past High-A ball and was released this past spring. Joe Rogers (5th) is in the bullpen at Erie, Jeff McVaney (8th) is in Erie's outfield, and Slade Smith (17th) is pitching in Lakeland. All were unprotected and unselected in the most recent Rule 5 draft.