The Detroit Tigers used to be known for building strong teams through their farm system. The lifeblood of that strategy is drafting and player development.
Yet, in the last several years, Detroit has been woeful at both.
Let’s stroll through the Detroit Tigers' first round draft selections from 2008 to 2021, including their performance and impact on the franchise (if any):
Perry was selected 21st overall and was known for his high velocity fastball. He reached the major leagues quickly but struggled to find consistent success. He played for the Tigers from 2009 to 2012, primarily as a relief pitcher. Perry was eventually traded to the Washington Nationals in 2013.
Turner was chosen with the 9th overall pick and was considered one of the top high school pitchers in his draft class. He showed promise in the Tigers' minor league system but struggled in the majors. Turner was traded to the Miami Marlins in 2012 as part of a deal for starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante.
Turner is a cautionary tale on the dangers of drafting a high school pitcher.
The Tigers did not have a first round pick in the 2010 draft due to signing free agent closer Jose Valverde.
McCann was drafted 76th overall, in the second round, but is worth mentioning due to his impact on the Tigers. He became the team's primary catcher from 2015 to 2018 and was known for his dependable defense behind the plate. McCann provided limited offensive contributions before leaving the team as a free agent after the 2018 season.
The Tigers did not have a first round pick in the 2012 draft due to signing free agent outfielder Prince Fielder.
The Tigers forfeited their first round pick in the 2013 draft due to signing free agent outfielder Torii Hunter.
Hill was selected 23rd overall and was known for his promising defensive skills, particularly in center field. However, his offensive performance has been inconsistent, and injuries have hampered his development. Hill has found little playing time in the major leagues but has shown flashes of potential. He spent very limited stretches with Detroit over three seasons, before being moved to Washington.
Burrows was chosen 22nd overall and was considered a promising pitching prospect. However, he struggled with injuries and command issues in the minor leagues, hindering his progress. Burrows made his major league debut in 2020 but was subsequently designated for assignment by the Tigers in 2021 and claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s one of many pitching prospects the Tigers have missed on.
Manning was the 9th overall pick and is regarded as one of the Tigers' top pitching prospects. He has a plus fastball and an expansive pitching repertoire. Manning made his major league debut in 2021 and has shown glimpses of his potential, although he's still refining his skills and gaining experience at the highest level. He’s been injured, like most Tigers pitching prospects, and it’s uncertain if the 25-year old will ever get a chance to shine in a big league rotation consistently, due to his health concerns.
Faedo was selected 18th overall and was highly regarded for his pitching ability, particularly his slider. However, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018, which delayed his development. Faedo made his major league debut in 2022, and is now already 27 years old in 2023. He’s still not showing effectiveness after limited action due to nagging arm issues, and his inability to put the ball over the plate.
Mize was the first overall pick in 2018 and was (at one time) considered among the top pitching prospects in baseball. Some experts say he possesses an impressive repertoire of pitches, including a devastating splitter. But, after two starts in 2022, he was felled by a shoulder injury. He underwent Tommy John surgery, and may not return until mid-season in 2024. His future is murky. But in 2021, when he made 30 starts, Mize was the most dependable starter on the Detroit roster.
The Tigers selected Greene out of a Florida high school with the 5th overall pick. He spent little time in the minors, and debuted in Detroit in 2022. He’s already shown that his lefthanded bat can spray the ball across the diamond. He’s also lauded for his defensive play, though he seems to dive for a lot of balls that other outfielders might catch on their feet. Greene also has an odd “duck waddle” heel-striking gait to his run, and he could be prone to injury. Oh, and he DID get injured in 2023, possibly ending his second season prematurely.
Once again the Tigers had an overall #1 pick in the draft in 2020. They used it to nab Torkelson from the college baseball factory at Arizona State. After only 156 minor league games, which featured 35 homers, he was summoned to the Motor City in 2022. So far, in fewer than 200 MLB games, Torkelson has looked lost at the plate, hitting .210 with putrid power. Whether he can develop into a true middle of the order guy remains to be seen.
The third pick in the first round of the 2021 draft, Jobe has been a disappointment, even by Tigers standards. He struck out 81 in 77 ⅓ innings as a first year pro last season, but he missed the first three months of the 2023 season with a back injury. At this point, Tigers fans may simply be waiting for Jobe to go under the knife like almost every other Detroit pitching prospect. He is throwing in June, so we’ll see how he does in year two.
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