Draft Report Cards: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers were the last team to make a pick this year, but still came away with a player they coveted (Castellanos), a nearly big league-ready reliever (Ruffin) and several intriguing lefthanders (Smyly, Burgos, Nelson, Ryan).
Bonus Spending: $7.3 million

BEST PURE HITTER: 3B Nick Castellanos' (1s) rumored $6 million price tag scared clubs off, and the Tigers were elated to get a player near the top of their draft board with the No. 44 choice. He cost them a supplemental round-record $3.45 million, but they love his swing and track record with wood bats. 2B Corey Jones (6) hit .360/.450/.460 in 48 games in low Class A. » BEST POWER HITTER: The natural extension and loft in Castellanos' stroke should enable him to hit 20-25 home runs a year in the majors. » FASTEST RUNNER: OF P.J. Polk (13), who stole 29 bases in 64 pro games, has plus speed and good instincts. » BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: C Bryan Holaday's (6) catch-and-throw skills are so advanced that the Tigers sent him right to high Class A. Castellanos has the athleticism and arm strength to be an asset at the hot corner.


BEST FASTBALL: For sheer velocity, it's LHP Cole Nelson (10), whose fastball began sitting at 94-95 mph after the Tigers lengthened his stride and raised his arm slot. But the best fastball belongs to RHP Chance Ruffin (1s), who operates at 90-93 mph and maxes out at 95 with tremendous life and command. » BEST SECONDARY PITCH: Ruffin's slider or LHP's Alex Burgos' (5) curveball. LHP Drew Smyly (2) has a nice cutter.


BEST PRO DEBUT: Jones, who jumped to low Class A after three games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, or Nelson, who had a 0.66 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 27 innings at high Class A Lakeland. He limited Florida State League hitters to one hit in 12 frames. » BEST ATHLETE: Castellanos isn't a classic athlete, but his worst tool is his average speed. » MOST INTRIGUING BACKGROUND: The Tigers signed the sons of manager Jim Leyland (C Patrick Leyland, 8) and batting coach Lloyd McClendon (OF Bo McClendon, 39), and also selected the son of pitching coach Rick Knapp (RHP Ricky Knapp, 44) and the brother of ace Justin Verlander (RHP Ben Verlander, 46). Ruffin's father Bruce and LHP Shawn Teufel's (25) dad Tim played in the majors, as did McClendon. » CLOSEST TO THE MAJORS: Detroit will send Ruffin to the Arizona Fall League and start his pro career in Double-A, just like it did with Andy Oliver from the 2009 draft. » BEST LATE-ROUND PICK: LHP Kyle Ryan (12), who throws 88-92 mph from a low three-quarters arm slot. He comes from the same area of Florida as White Sox first-rounder Chris Sale, and looks a lot like Sale did coming out of high school. » THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY: Finesse RHP Cole Green (4) is the highest-drafted four-year college pitcher from the 2010 draft to return to school. He went back to Texas. SS Dominic Ficociello (23) has the power potential to become a prominent pick in the 2013 draft after three years at Arkansas.