Detroit Tigers: Best draft picks by Round in team history

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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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Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 19: Andy Dirks #12 of the Detroit Tigers gets a single in the eighth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on September 19, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers won 6-2 (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Round 10 – Mark Fidrych

(Honorable Mention: Frank Catalanotto)

The tenth round gave us one of the most memorable players in Tigers (and baseball) history. Mark ‘The Bird’ Fidrych was taken in the tenth round of the 1974 draft. In 1976, he captured America’s attention with an incredible 19-9 record, 2.34 ERA and 24 complete games. He finished second in Cy Young voting and was voted the Rookie of the Year.

Beyond his numbers were his eccentricities: talking to the ball, manicuring the mound with his hands, etc. He became an icon. Unfortunately, injuries absolutely crushed him as he only managed 162 big league innings after his magical rookie year. He was out of the game for good in 1980, at just 25 years old.

Other notable tenth round picks for the Tigers include utility player Frank Catalanotto, outfielder Leon Roberts and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, who chose to attend Tennessee and was selected in the first round a few years later.

In the minors, right-hander Paul Voelker (2014) is an under-the-radar prospect for fans to keep an eye on.

Round 9 – Phil Mankowski

The Tigers should skip round nine this year. Only seven players drafted by Detroit in the ninth round have ever made the show, and only one of them, Phil Mankowski, had a bWAR over 0.0. In fact, Detroit hasn’t had a ninth round pick even make the big leagues since 1997 selection Bud Smith, who was drafted again by the Cardinals in 1998. Yikes.

Round 8 – Andy Dirks

It was very hard not to award this to Tigers legend Don Kelly, who was taken in the eighth round in 2001, but Dirks did have a better career. Dirks hit .276 with 24 home runs across 971 at-bats in his career. Kelly will go down in history as one of the most beloved utility infielders in team history.  A handful of semi-useful relievers, including Luke French, Zac Reininger and Artie Lewicki, round out the eighth round for the Tigers.

Detroit’s No. 27 overall prospect Jake Robson was an eighth rounder in 2016 and could challenge Dirks for the top spot if he gets a chance in the show.

Round 7 – Rick Peters

So technically the Tigers selected Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith in the seventh round in 1976, but he opted to return to Cal Poly and ended up going to the Padres the next year. For players who actually played for the Tigers, outfielder Rick Peters (1977) is the only one who found much big league success. The last few drafts haven’t produced anyone who looks likely to challenge Peters’ spot as the greatest round seven pick in Tigers history, unfortunately.

Round 6 – Brian Moehler

The Tigers selected Moehler in the sixth round of the 1993 draft. He went 48-52 for the Tigers from 1996-2002, and finished his career with a 4.81 ERA and 84 wins. Other sixth round picks include Clete Thomas, Tyler Collins and 2016 pick Bryan Garcia, who is Detroit’s No. 16 ranked prospect.

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