I’ve never had the pleasure, but I have to imagine that hearing that phone ring on draft day for a baseball player has to be one of the greatest feelings out there. To a young man, it means the dream can continue, and no matter where they are selected, it means they can get paid to play a game they love and have been playing for free all their lives. It has to be equally as difficult for a young man to field that dream phone call, and then decide to turn down the opportunity, and either go to college, or return to college to try and better one’s position for the following season.
In 2009, the Tigers made their first round call to Jacob Turner out of Missouri high school, and like any other 1st rounders, the Tigers made a strong financial commitment to make sure they signed Turner. With talented high school players, and non senior class college players, major league teams run that risk that a player won’t sign, who can opt instead for another opportunity to improve their stock. Inevitably, every draft contains players that don’t sign with their drafting club. Looking at 2009, the Tigers definitely left some talent on the table.
The Tigers in recent years have been a little more conservative with their drafting. In 2008 and 2011, they were near the bottom of the league in spending. In 2010, they splurged on Nick Castellanos, but remained fiscally responsible for the most part in the rest of the draft. In 2009, they spent some money, signing Turner, Andy Oliver, and 6th rounder Daniel Fields to big contracts. They went over slot late for 30th rounder James Robbins as well. Despite this, the Tigers left a lot of talent unsigned. They failed to sign their 8th, 12th, 15th, 25th, 28th, 31st, and 32nd. In fact, the Tigers, who drafted quite a bit of high school talent late didn’t really sign any of them besides Robbins. It was as if the Tigers purposely drafted players they had no intention of signing.
That of course isn’t the case necessarily. Every team operates off of a budget, and the Tigers prioritized who they wanted to sign. Obviously James Robbins is a guy they followed throughout the summer and wanted to ink. More so than say, 33rd rounder Cody Keefer.
Still, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the guys unsigned from this draft who were considered talented enough to sign, but for whatever reason got away.
8th rounder (Craig Fritsch)
Fritsch was a big power armed pitcher out of Baylor who the Tigers selected as a junior. I wasn’t particularly enamored with this pick to begin with. Fritsch struggled with command and secondaries, and was selected by the Phillies the following season. He has struggled in the minors so far, walking a whopping almost 10/9 in his short career.
12th rounder (Matt Thomson)
Thomson was a junior draft out of the University of San Diego. A big right hander that throws relatively hard, Thomson felt he could improve his draft stock. He didn’t, as he ended up in the 12 round again the following season, where the Oakland A’s selected him. So far, Thomson has been good, compiling an ERA of 2.29 with over 12k’s per 9 innings and just 2 walks.
15th rounder (Mark Appel)
This is the big fish that got away from Detroit. Appel is widely considered a potential top 3 pick for the 2012 draft this season, so he clearly improved his stock by taking his talents to Stanford. Players are often difficult to sway from Stanford and Vanderbilt in particular, and while the Tigers I am sure made an offer, I doubt they could’ve gotten him unless they offered the moon and then some.
25th round (Victor Roache)
Roache was a local high school product out of Ypsilanti who has grown into a tremendous power hitter at Georgia Southern University. Roache is a quality athlete for a big guy, and profiles well as a RF in the major leagues. He has turned himself into a potential 1st rounder in the 2012 draft, though he just broke his wrist a couple of days ago diving for a baseball. If he is still around when the Tigers pick in the 2nd round, it might be time to draft him again. Maybe the Tigers signed the wrong local product in 2009?
28th round (Tobin Mateychick)
When looking at the unsigned guys at the time, the one I was most disappointed with was Mateychick. He has a tremendous pitchers frame, and looks like a guy that can develop a powerful top of the rotation arsenal. He still might, but in 2011, he suffered through Tommy John surgery and will be a draft eligible sophomore for Witchita State this season. The jury is still out on this one.
31st round (Andrew Walter)
The Tigers drafted this big right hander in the 31st round, and he does have some potential, however he didn’t get drafted in 2011 and signed as a free agent with the Houston Astros. He didn’t pitch a lot in short season ball for the Astros but did perform well for them.
32nd round (Parker Markel)
With back to back selections that season, the Tigers went with another guy from Yavapai JC in Arizona. Markel, like Walter, is a physically imposing dude at 6’4″. Like Walter he has had some initial success with another organization. Markel went in the 39th round of the draft in 2010, and posted an ERA of 3.14 for the Tampa organization in 2011. Markel is a ground ball pitcher with a quality sinking fastball and solid secondaries.
33rd round (Cody Keefer)
Keefer is an athletic outfielder who the Tigers were quite big on in 2009. I do think it came down to him and Robbins for the last guy they were going to sign that season. Keefer took his talents to UCLA, where he is now one of their top offensive players. He should get selected in the 2012 draft, though he is nowhere near the level of Appel and Roache.
35th round (Patrick Biondi)
Another local Michigan selection out of Dearborn Divine Child, Biondi went on to play for the University of Michigan. Biondi should get selected in the 2012 draft as a speedy CF who could potentially hit and get on base.
Danny Canela (37th)- Canela is likely to be drafted in 2012 again as a catcher/3B with some pop.
Terran Senay (38th)- Senay to me has improved his stock, and profiles as a RF. He shows good raw power, and has on base skills. Not a tremendous athlete by any stretch, but okay. Plays with Canela at N.C. State.
Charlie Markson (44th)- Markson has a good CF body and is athletic with a strong arm. Has top of the order potential, though will likely have to be a senior draft as he hasn’t played a lot up until this season. Currently at Notre Dame.
Jim Brennan (45th)- Brennan is a key member of a quality St. John’s baseball team, and is another guy the Tigers got in 2009 that should be drafted again. An outfielder that does a little bit of everything well.