Detroit Tigers: Looking Back at the 2002 MLB Draft

Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson celebrate after winning Game Four of the 2006 ALDS. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson celebrate after winning Game Four of the 2006 ALDS. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

For the Detroit Tigers, the 2002 MLB Draft produced two talents in Curtis Granderson and Joel Zumaya allowed fans to forget about another first-round miss.

The year 2002 was one of transition for the Detroit Tigers. In April, general manager Randy Smith and Phil Garner were let go after a 0-6 start. The Dave Dombrowski era had begun but left him little time to prepare for the draft. Greg Smith, the scouting director under the Randy Smith era, would oversee the draft until 2004. His track record for producing talent was hit or miss. But in 2002, Smith proved his worth.

2002 Detroit Tigers Signed Draft Picks Who Played in the Majors:

Round 1-Scott Moore SS  Cypress High School,  Cypress, California.

Round 2-Brent Cleven OF  Westwood High School, Austin, Texas

Round 3-Curtis Granderson OF University of Illinois-Chicago

Round 10-Luke Carlin C Northeastern University

Round 11-Joel Zumaya P Bonita Vista High School, Chula Vista, California

Round 15-Jesse Carlson P University of Connecticut

The left-handed-hitting Scott Moore was just 18 years old when he signed in early June after he graduated from high school. The long term plan for Moore was to play 3rd base. Greg Smith called Moore ” a total package” of baseball talents, that could project for the middle-of-the-order someday.

Baseball America’s scouting report ($) featured a comp that would make any Tiger fan swell up with excitement.

“As an all-around player, Moore resembles Chipper Jones, with good hands, good body control, and a good baseball body.”

Moore was considered according to Baseball America, the top shortstop prospect in Southern California. The Tigers had some young help in the infield, thanks to Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago but drafting a potential corner 3rd baseman with that kind of upside, it could be easy to see the logic behind the pick at the time despite Moore hitting .329, which was low for a pick that high among the likes of Justin Upton and Prince Fielder, who were drafted ahead of Moore.

Defensively, he never got it together at third baseball in stops at West Michigan and Lakeland. In 2004, he lead the Florida State League in errors with 28, fielding just .903.  After a few seasons,  in 2005, the Detroit Tigers traded him to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Farnsworth. He would get a call up to the Cubs in 2006 after being named to the Southern League All-Star team. Ironically enough, he was named to Baseball America’s top defensive third baseman in the Southern League that season.

Moore would go and play part-time in stops in Baltimore and Houston until 2012. Then he spent time in minors with the Padres and Cardinals system. He called it a career at the age of 31 in 2015.

Brent Cleven worked his way up to the Tigers’ system, earning the call up from Erie. He had quite the debut for Detroit. He hit his first two career home runs as a Tiger in a 10-4 blowout of Tampa Bay. He would just be in Detroit for just 77 at-bats before signing with the Braves in 2009.

Luke Carlin (career WAR of 0.5) would only spend a season in the Tigers’ system before he reached the majors with the Padres in 2008. He would go on to play for Arizona and Cleveland.

Jesse Carlson like Carlin, was out of the system within a year after he was drafted by Detroit. He would reach the majors with Toronto in 2008 as a reliever.

We all know what we got with Joel Zumaya and Curtis Granderson as they were key parts in the 2006 Detroit Tigers ALCS championship squad.  That saved the 2002 draft for Detroit and could be argued that it was the best draft by the Tigers in a five-year period.  The 1998 Detroit Tigers did produce Jeff Weaver, Nate Cornejo, Brandon Inge, Adam Pettyjohn and Andres Torres but in terms of impact for the Tigers, only Inge comes to mind.