The Tigers took three pitchers on day one, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The Tigers have been able to turn pitching prospects into a couple of solid pieces recently. They were able to land Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante by dealing promising pitching prospect Jacob Turner and a couple other pieces to the Miami Marlins last season. So the fact they went with three hurlers with their initial picks doesn’t come out of left field.
The pitchers they went with, however, are a little surprising as they are all likely to be relievers rather than starters.
The Tigers took Jonathan Crawford with the 20th overall pick. Crawford isn’t a bad choice, but he doesn’t have a long track record as a starter. The Florida Gator made a move from the outfield after his freshman season because a coach thought his arm had promise. The right-hander has a solid fastball that is consistently in the mid-90s. His slider is solid and may be his best pitch. But if he hopes to be a starter, he’s going to need to work on another pitch or two.
Crawford fits the mold of a pitcher the Tigers prefer to have in their organization. He has a tall build and raw talent and could improve greatly with a little more work with the Tigers’ pitching coaches.
The Tigers’ next two picks were the one that didn’t make much sense.
They took Corey Knebel out of the University of Texas with their second choice at 38th overall. Knebel has been a solid reliever for the Longhorns, and he isn’t a bad choice as far as his abilities. He’s tough to hit, but he doesn’t project to be anything more than a reliever.
The Tigers used their final pick on day one to take Kevin Ziomek. Ziomek is a crafty-lefty who will likely be a situational reliever, a la Phil Coke. He has a herky-jerky delivery and appears to be more of a work in progress than a sure-fire major leaguer. He has good velocity for a left-handed reliever, but he doesn’t appear to have much else going for him.
The Tigers’ could have done worse in terms of who they got, but their overall day one draft strategy is a little puzzling. They often look for hard-throwing starters they can turn into well-rounded pitchers, but it appears they have landed three potential relievers. They may need bullpen help now, but none of these guys will be ready to fill any of those roles any time soon.