Number 5 Best Detroit Tigers Draft – 2002
Dave Dombrowski took over as Detroit’s General Manager in April of 2002, and just a few months later he presided over one of the best draft classes in team history. We don’t always know how much of a role GMs play in the draft, but it still goes on Dombrowski’s record.
The draft didn’t exactly start great for the Tigers though, as they used the number eight overall pick on high-school infielder Scott Moore, and then followed in the second round with prep outfielder Brent Clevlen. Moore didn’t pan out, but he did play 152 big-league games, and the Tigers managed to trade him to the Cubs for hard-throwing reliever Kyle Farnsworth. Cleven looked like a budding star for a handful of games in 2006, but his career fizzled out after that.
Then came Detroit’s third-round pick, a college outfielder from Illinois-Chicago named Curtis Granderson. From 2005-2012 Granderson was simply the best center fielder in baseball. He started for Detroit’s World Series team in 2006, then the next year he became just the third member of the 20-20-20-20 club. He was the centerpiece of a three-team trade that brought Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson to Detroit in 2009 and vaulted the Tigers back into World Series contention for five more years, and he’s the only Tigers draft pick in history to hit 40 home runs in a season.
Granderson was the key pick in 2002, but in the 11th round the Tigers drafted high-school pitcher Joel Zumaya, who was one of the best relievers in baseball as a rookie in 2006. Zumaya wasn’t quite a Fidrych phenomenon, but he exhilarated Tigers fans with his triple-digit fastball and knee-buckling curve. An endless string of injuries kept Zumaya from ever throwing 40 innings in a season again, and his career was over after the 2010 season, but he still ranks fifth in triple-digit pitches thrown since 2008.