|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|For the third straight year, the Tigers stole a talent that shouldn't have made it to their pick, following on the heels of Cameron Maybin (No. 10 overall in 2005) and Andrew Miller (No. 7 overall in 2006). New Jersey righty Rick Porcello was the top high school arm in the draft, and while he's a tough sign who could win up going to college, it's a gamble well worth taking at No. 27. Alabama high school righty Brandon Hamilton (supplemental first round) has a quality arm, as does Illinois prep righty Casey Crosby (fifth round). I thought Crosby was going in the sandwich round.|
DETROIT--No matter the year, no matter the circumstances, David Chadd will not change his draft philosophy.
Two years ago, he thought high school outfielder Cameron Maybin was the best player available, at No. 10 overall.
So, he took Maybin.
Last year, he thought college lefthander Andrew Miller was the best player available, at No. 6 overall.
So, he took Miller.
On June 7, he thought high school righthander Rick Porcello was the best player available, at No. 27 overall.
So, he took Porcello.
Presuming the Tigers sign Porcello--and that's not a sure thing, considering a probable price tag between $6.5 and $8 million--his selection may be looked upon as a final, emphatic statement of Detroit's arrival as an organization intent on spending big money to accumulate top talent.
"As far as signability goes, we're going to take the best player," Chadd said, in a teleconference later that night. "Rick Porcello was the best player at that pick."
The Tigers went above slot to get Maybin and Miller, and will certainly need to do the same here, if they have any hope of signing the draft's top high school arm.
He has drawn some comparisons with current Detroit starter Justin Verlander, thanks to his lean body frame and fluid mechanics. Chadd, in fact, acknowledged that there are some similarities. Like Verlander, Porcello has a hard fastball--usually around 94 mph--that he throws almost effortlessly.
He throws two breaking pitches, a curveball and slider, which are very advanced for an 18-year-old pitcher. His changeup is promising, too.
Porcello has a polish about him, shown in sound command and a keen knowledge for how to blend pitches. He could progress rather quickly, by the standards of high school pitchers--and, depending on what course the negotiations take, the Tigers may have little choice but to hope that he does.
Because of the new Aug. 15 signing deadline, any deal Porcello signs with Detroit would involve a 2007 contract. So, any major league deal would require the Tigers to place him on the 40-man roster--and, presumably, use an option--this year.
That could create a scenario in which--even if he were granted a fourth option--he would need to be ready for the majors after only three full seasons in the minors. Porcello will be 22 at that point--the same age Josh Beckett was in 2002, when he saw his first extended time in the major leagues.
Whether Porcello is ready then is anyone's guess. It appears, though, that he's ready to start working toward that this summer.
"I want to play professional baseball right now," Porcello said on the night he was drafted. "It's always been my dream. That's what I want to do."
• Joey Hamilton, Detroit's selection at No. 60, is in many ways a classic, high-ceiling, high school righthander. He has a plus-plus fastball, and sharp curveball, but needs to work on his command.
• Pepperdine shortstop Danny Worth (second round) was the only position player the Tigers selected on the draft's first day. He's solid and occasionally spectacular in the field--he has terrific hands--and possesses a gap-to-gap, doubles stroke at the plate. He's somewhat similar to Detroit prospect Brent Dlugach.