Detroit Tigers: Best draft picks by Round in team history

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 13: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 13: Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws a pitch against the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Comerica Park on October 13, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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SAN FRANCISCO – JULY 10: American League All-Star pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers deals during the 78th Major League Baseball All-Star Game at AT&T Park on July 10, 2007 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /

Round 1 – Justin Verlander

(Honorable Mentions: Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Travis Fryman)

It goes without saying, but Detroit has found the majority of their draft success in the first round. None more so than future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander, who was taken second overall in 2004. Verlander made his big league debut in 2005 and took the league by storm in 2006, going 17-9 with a 3.63 ERA and winning the Rookie of the Year award.

Verlander went on to become one of the greatest Tigers pitchers of all-time, right up until his trade in July of 2017 to the Houston Astros in exchange for Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers.

Verlander’s 59.4 bWAR is the highest among Detroit Tigers first round picks by a considerable margin. However, the Tigers have had four first round picks (Verlander, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, and Travis Fryman) produce a career bWAR over 30 – far and away the most of any round.

Other First Round Picks

In addition, Rick Porcello, Nicholas Castellanos, Tony Clark, Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin have all gone on to have successful big league careers.

The Tigers are not without their first round blunders – with 18 (!) first round picks who have a career bWAR under 0.5. Notable ones include third overall pick Eric Munson, right-hander Jacob Turner, shortstop Scott Moore, sixth overall pick Seth Greisinger and 1965 13th overall pick Gene Lamont.

Many of Detroit’s current top prospects (Alex Faedo, Matt Manning, Beau Burrows) were first round picks. While it’s too early to tell, any of them could someday find their way onto the list of greatest first round picks in Tigers history.

Next: Analyzing the last 10 Tigers drafts

The Detroit Tigers have acquired many of their talented players via the MLB Draft. This June, they’ll have another opportunity to add to their storied history. While the focus will be on the players taken in the first few rounds, there’s always the possibility of finding the next John Smoltz down in Round 22. Let’s hope the Tigers don’t trade him this time.