Tigers 2002 Draft Overview
By Allan Simpson
Scouting Director: Greg Smith (first year: 1997).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking eighth)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 11th)
From 1992-96, the team's first-round round picks included Rick Greene, Matt Brunson, Cade Gaspar, Mike Drumright and Seth Geisinger. Their total contribution has been one major league appearance by Greene and 21 starts in Detroit for Greisinger in 1998 before almost three full seasons on the disabled list. Greisinger is back in the big leagues this season, but that doesn't change a record of futility that came on the heels of an equally poor stretch of drafting in the 1980s.
As gloomy as things are in Detroit right now, there is hope after the Tigers had what was generally considered the game's best draft in 2001 and their best draft in 25 years. In 1976, Detroit got shortstop Alan Trammell and pitchers Jack Morris and Dan Petry in the top five rounds, and all were key contributors as the Tigers won the World Series eight years later.
But even the 2001 draft class has been undermined this season by injuries. Righthander Kenny Baugh reached Double-A in his first season but had a tired arm late in the season. He still had not pitched this season as soreness lingered in his shoulder. Second baseman Michael Woods was lost for the season with a knee injury. Fifth-round pick Ryan Raburn, who debuted with a .363 average, dislocated his hip falling off an all-terrain vehicle in the offseason, and the injury threatens his career.
Needless to say, the Tigers have a number of needs to address in this year's draft. They've selected pitchers with seven of their last eight No. 1 picks and are expected to go that way again in a draft deep in pitching.
It's possible, though, the organization could dip into its past and draft Florida high school first baseman Prince Fielder. The 5-foot-11, 260-pound slugger is the son of Cecil Fielder, and many around Detroit remember young Prince from his days tagging along with dad. As a 12-year-old, he launched balls into the upper deck at old Tiger Stadium in batting practice.
Greg Smith, whose tenure as scouting director has been exceeded by only Lin Garrett of the Yankees and Mike Radcliff of the Twins, will oversee his sixth draft. He's on shaky ground with a new administration in Detroit and is sure to get advice from former Marlins scouting director Al Avila. Avila joined the Tigers as an assistant to team president Dave Dombrowski, who is also serving as GM since firing Randy Smith. The two were together in Florida when the Marlins took Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez with first-round picks in 1999 and 2000.
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