June 7th, 2010

Tigers draft

The Tigers’ first draft without a traditional first-round pick since 1991 didn’t change their tactic of going after still yielded some highly-rated talent. Detroit used its first selection, the 44th pick overall, on highly-touted infielder Nick Castellanos from Archbishop McCarthy High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Castellanos, a shortstop and third baseman in high school who is projected at third professionally, batted .542 this season with six home runs, 41 RBIs and 34 runs scored. He was honored as the Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year and competed with the under-18 squad for USA baseball that won a gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championship in Venezuela. He was widely considered as a first-round talent but has committed to attend the University of Miami.

At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, Castellanos already has a big frame and has the hitting potential to go with it. His power potential has been well-discussed and projected as he advances in the Minor Leagues. However, he also is projected to have the arm strength and athleticism to become a good defender with time.

Castellanos becomes the first position player taken with the Tigers’ top pick since Cameron Maybin in 2005.

Four picks later, the Tigers added to their bullpen depth by drafting University of Texas closer Chance Ruffin with the 48th overall selection. The son of former Major League reliever Bruce Ruffin, the right-hander boasts a fastball that has topped out at 95 mph while closing for the Longhorns to go with a quality slider. He has earned some comparisons to another former Texas closer, Huston Street.

Like Street, Ruffin has a chance to advance quickly, further bolstering a Tigers system already deep in relief prospects.

The Tigers lost what would’ve been their first-round selection, the 19th pick overall, to the Astros as a price for signing Type A free agent Jose Valverde in January. However, they gained sandwich picks at 44 and 48 as compensation for losing Type B free-agent relievers Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon. It left scouting director David Chadd looking at different spots from which to approach this draft, but he has said repeatedly that it was well worth the price for adding Valverde to Detroit’s bullpen.

Chadd said last week that the Tigers’ approach wasn’t going to change. They would still look for the best overall talent at their picks without regard to positions up top, then look for depth later in the draft.

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