With the 2020 MLB Draft limited to just five rounds, we take a look back at some of the best 6th or later draft picks who were Detroit Tigers.
I have been buried in history lately. After looking back at the 1993 Detroit Tigers squad, I spent a lot of time researching past drafts to see how past Detroit teams were built. In that research, I came across five draft picks who made it to the majors while wearing the Detroit Tigers uniform while being drafted in the 10th round or later.
5. Gabe Kapler
Kapler is the lowest round draft pick in this top 5. Drafted in the 57th round in 1995 out of high school, his time in Detroit was brief but was one of the key components in the Juan Gonzalez trade, putting up some solid numbers in his career.
4. Joel Zumaya
Zumaya was drafted in the 11th round as a starter in 2002 but his contribution to manager Jim Leyland’s bullpen in 2006 was one of the main reasons why the Tigers went to the World Series that season. He may have only been here a few seasons but Zumaya is still a fan favorite and when he was healthy, he was highly effective.
3. Bobby Higginson
Higginson played both corner outfield positions and was one of the few Tigers that made the transition over from Tiger Stadium to Comerica Park. In 11 seasons in a Tigers uniform, he hit .272 with a career bWAR of 23.1. Not bad for a 12th round pick in the 1992 draft.
2. Mark Fidrych
Fidrych was drafted in the 10th round in the 1973 draft. “The Bird” won Rookie of the Year in 1976 after going 19-6 with an ERA of 2.34. The biggest “what if” of all time if he stayed healthy, what he could have been. He captured not only Detroit’s imagination but the nation’s.
1. John Smoltz
Outside of the Matthew Stafford knows Clayton Kershaw narrative that is used each and every time, Hall of Famer John Smoltz was the 22nd round draft pick in 1985. He was part of a trade you all well know about.