A little bit ago, I did a 2003 draft review. Following that dismal season, the Tigers of course had a very high selection in 2004, the 2nd pick overall. It was a pick , given the state of the franchise, that had quite a bit of importance to the Tigers if they were going to start getting better. In a draft that produced a lot of big league players, the Tigers definitely hit on their first rounder. But how did the rest of the draft go? Let’s take a look.
1st round (Justin Verlander)-
Going on 8 years later, this pick looks like a no-brainer, but that was far from the case at the time. In a draft that contained the likes of Stephen Drew, Jared Weaver, and Jeff Niemann, the Tigers didn’t exactly go with the consensus in Verlander. But David Dombrowski and crew’s love for a power arm won out, and we are glad it did. 7 years later, only Jared Weaver has come close to posting a bWAR in the neighborhood of Verlander. Verlander has accumulated 26.8 bWAR in that span to Weaver’s 26.7. The Tigers of course were considering Weaver at the time because of the relative success his brother Jeff had in a Tigers uniform. They also strongly considered Stephen Drew, but it is clear they made the right choice. Other names that went in the first round? Phillip Humber, Homer Bailey, Neil Walker, Billy Butler, Phil Hughes, Huston Street and Gio Gonzalez.
2nd round (Eric Beattie)
Given that the Tigers drafted 2nd overall in 2004, their 2nd round pick was almost like a first rounder. As much as they hit on the first one, they blew it with the Beattie selection. He had a good arm, but his command and control were terrible. Beattie never even made it out of A ball. To add a little insult to injury on this selection, just 3 picks later in this round the Milwaukee Brewers selected Yovani Gallardo. Two later selections in the round? Dustin Pedroia and Hunter Pence.
3rd round (Jeff Frazier)
Now we start getting into the part of the draft where there is little chance of guys actually making the big leagues, let alone an impact. The Tigers 3rd round selection did make it to the bigs, however, Frazier hasn’t been good enough to stick. 2004 was a little bit stronger of a year than most it appears though, 13 of the 30 picks have made it to the major leagues. The most successful player from this draft thus far has been Adam Lind of the Toronto Blue Jays. A couple others of note are J.A. Happ, Ian Desmond and Wade Davis.
4th round (Collin Mahoney)
The Tigers once again went with an arm strength pick. Mahoney, who was a catcher by trade was converted to a pitcher because of his ability to throw hard. Armed with a mid to upper 90′s fastball, Mahoney never developed the rest of his pitching game and never made it out of A ball. When it comes to the 4th round, these types of gambles are worth trying, and despite 14 of the 30 teams having guys make the bigs in this round, there isn’t a lot of impact from them. The best 4th round selections from 2004 include; Brad Bergesen, Chris Iannetta, Casey Janssen, and Lou Marson.
5th round (Andrew Kown)
In most years, the Tigers and every other club are ecstatic if they get any production from a 5th round selection. We can see the drop off that occurs. 11 guys in this round made the big leagues, but they combined for a 0.3 bWAR. Kown did move up to the AAA level, and he is actually still kicking around in the minors and has been a serviceable organizational guy for a couple of different clubs. That does have some value. The player that has accumulated the most WAR from that round in the 2004 draft? Paul Janish of the Cincinnati Reds with 0.7 bWAR. Jake McGee of the Tampa Bay Rays looks like he might be a good selection moving forward.
In later rounds, the Tigers didn’t unearth any gems either, however they did get some value out a guy or two. 6th rounder Brent Dlugach, who recently returned to the organization, did make the big leagues. The Tigers also get Lucas French in the 8th round that year as well, who they turned into a couple horrible months from Jarrod Washburn. In the 34th round, the Tigers nabbed Dallas Trahern, who was a part of the big Miguel Cabrera trade.
Overall, you certainly can’t say the Tigers did a good job. However, when they really needed it, they hit on their first round pick big time. You can’t overlook that, especially considering the success rates after the 1st round drop drastically. Verlander alone makes this draft look like an A- to me.