Round 30 – Don Heinkel
Four players picked in the 30th have reached the big leagues, none since 1991 selection Kevin Morgan, who had one at-bat.
1982 selection Don Heinkel posted a 3.96 ERA in 36.1 innings with the Tigers in 1988, thus earning the crown as their greatest 30th round selection.
Round 29 – Bobby Moore
Moore is the only big leaguer to come from Detroit’s 29th round selections, and he didn’t even sign. Additionally, Detroit’s current farm system does not have any 29th round picks who are still playing.
Round 28 – Dave Roberts
The Tigers managed to draft and sign outfielder Dave Roberts in the 28th round of the 1994 draft. They traded him in 1998 to the Indians for Geronimo Berroa however, so he never actually donned the Old English D. Roberts went on to have a productive career as a base stealing threat, swiping one of the most iconic bags in history during the 2004 Red Sox – Yankees ALCS.
Round 27 – Will Rhymes
Detroit’s most successful 27th round pick is without a doubt left-hander Matt Thornton. Thornton didn’t sign however, so the honor goes to infielder Will Rhymes.
Rhymes battled for five years in the minors before making his debut in 2010. He hit .304 with 12 doubles in 191 at-bats. The second baseman was semi-productive in 2011, hitting .235 as an up-and-down utility man. He signed as a free agent with the Rays and played one more season in the show.
Round 26 – Max St. Pierre
The Tigers have had two players drafted in the 26th round post a -0.1 bWAR. One is reliever Jeff Ferrell, who was with the Tigers for nine games in 2015 and 11 games last year before signing with the Orioles this offseason.
The other is catcher Max St. Pierre, who was drafted by the Tigers in 1997. He spent 13 years in the minor leagues before making his big league debut at age 30 in 2010. He went 2-for-9 in his brief cameo, but after over a decade in the minor leagues, it had to feel pretty great to get a major league knock.
The Tigers drafted Colin Kaline, Al Kaline‘s grandson, in the 26th round in 2011. He hit .197 in 234 minor league at-bats before calling it quits.
Round 25 – Barry Lyons
Barry Lyons is the only 25th round pick to reach the big leagues in Tigers history. He didn’t even sign with Detroit, opting to return to Delta State and getting picked in the 15th round one year later.
Round 24 – Matt Beech
Just like Round 25, the 24th round only produced one big leaguer in Tigers draft history. That was Matt Beech, who didn’t even sign with the Tigers.
Additionally, not a single recent 24th round pick is even still in the Tigers system. That includes 2017 24th round pick Jordan Knutson, who apparently never suited up. Perhaps better luck will come Detroit’s way in 2018.
Round 23 – Kip Young
Kip Young was taken in Detroit’s legendary 1976 draft (more on that later). He made his big league debut in 1978 and went 8-9 with a 3.86 ERA and seven complete games between 1978-1979.
Round 22 – John Smoltz
The two 22nd round picks that have made the big leagues have a combined 69.4 bWAR. Right-hander John Smoltz is responsible for 69.1 of that, although 0 of it was with the Tigers. Smoltz was famously traded in August of 1987 to the Atlanta Braves for Doyle Alexander. Alexander went 8-0 down the stretch for the Tigers, while Smoltz developed into a first ballot Hall of Famer. Bummer.
No one the Tigers picked in the 22nd round ever played a big league game for Detroit. Perhaps third baseman and 2017 selection Colby Bortles, brother of NFL quarterback Blake Bortles, will be the first. He is currently hitting .245 with Single-A West Michigan.
Round 21 – Fred Holdsworth
Right-hander Fred Holdsworth appeared in 15 games (9 starts) for the Tigers from 1972-1974. He had a 5.97 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He left Detroit and found more success as a reliever from 1976-1980, pitching to a 3.68 ERA with three different teams.
Perhaps Joe Navilhon, a 2016 pick out of USC, can challenge Holdworth for the top spot. He has a 2.08 ERA at High-A Lakeland this season.