The Detroit Tigers won’t make their next MLB draft selection for another six months, but draft season is already upon us.
Junior college baseball has begun, high school showcases like the Super 60 are around the corner, and college baseball starts in fewer than three weeks. We’ll begin offering weekly draft updates soon, but today we want to take a look back at some of the more regrettable draft hauls in Detroit Tigers history.
We were inspired to do this by two things related to the 2017 draft. The first was our prospect profile of Alex Faedo, and the second was this Tweet from our friend Zeke Jennings:
It’s still too early to make any definitive statements about the Detroit Tigers 2017 draft class, but things certainly aren’t looking great. Faedo was the team’s top pick that year, but early struggles and Tommy John surgery have kept the now 26-year-old from pitching above Double-A. And he’s probably the last hope for any kind of impact from that class:
Will Vest was taken by the Mariners in the Rule 5 draft and then returned to the Tigers after a few months, and Drew Carlton was an emergency add to the Tigers bullpen last September, but he was removed from the 40-man roster after the season. There are a handful of other players still in the system from the 2017 draft, but it looks like the legacy of that class is now solely on the shoulders of Alex Faedo.
Maybe the 2017 draft will make a list like this in another five years, but for now we’re going to focus on drafts that were definitively bad. Although, it’s a bit harder to define a bad draft than it seems.
What’s worse, drafting players who reach the majors and then perform poorly, or drafting players who never even make the big leagues? We tried to take both scenarios into account when making the list.
One thing we won’t do is blame the Tigers for players they didn’t take. Would it have been cool if the Tigers took Mookie Betts in the 5th round of the 2011 draft instead of Brandon Loy? Absolutely, but that’s a bit too much hindsight for us. Mostly we want to focus on the drafts that just didn’t work out. So, without further ado…
Number 6 Worst Detroit Tigers Draft – 1973
The 1973 draft class was just a dud for the Tigers. It was the final draft overseen by Ed Katalinas, a famed scout who signed Al Kaline and excelled in the pre-draft world, but never quite figured out the draft (as you’ll see later). Detroit had the 19th overall pick that year, and they used it on Charles Bates, a third baseman from Cal State University. Bates played pro ball for four years, but he never advanced past Double-A Montgomery. Their second rounder was New York shortstop Kevin Slattery, who hit .177 over three seasons and never made it past Low-A.
The only big-leaguer the Tigers signed was their third-round pick Bob Adams, who played in 15 games in 1977, primarily as a pinch hitter, though he did get one start as a catcher and two starts at first base. Adams saw just 24 plate appearances, but he managed to hit two home runs. One came against BIll Travers, who had been an All-Star the year before, and the other came against Frank Tanana, who led the league in ERA that year. Adams returned to the minors in 1978, and then he retired from baseball.
The only other MLB player from that draft class was Detroit’s 13th rounder Charlie Puleo, a high-school pitcher who opted to attend Seton Hall University instead. He went undrafted out of college, but eventually went on to pitch in parts of eight seasons for the Mets, Reds, and Braves.