Florida pitcher Jonathon Crawford will tempt the Tigers if he pitches reassuringly during the Southeastern Conference Tournament. (Associated Press)
It will shock no one versed in Detroit's ways if the Tigers look first at pitching when this year's draft gets rolling June 6 and continues through June 8.
College pitchers, ideally, are on the Tigers' menu since they could be staring at a rotation hole if Max Scherzer follows the customary advice of agent Scott Boras and tries out free agency following the 2014 season.
"I think that's fair to say," David Chadd, the Tigers vice president of amateur scouting, was explaining during a phone conversation Friday. "Obviously, if we could find some advanced pitching we like, we would think in that direction. With that said, in any draft, you just don't pass up someone you would think has impact — if that impact player is there."
The Tigers' first-round selection is 20th overall. They have another pick at 39, one at 58, and another at 94.
They are known to have interest in the following gents, which puts them right there with the preceding 19 teams who will have thinned this gang by the time Detroit's turn arrives:
Among the contestants:
Jonathon Crawford, RHP, University of Florida: After a bad couple of months, he had a more Crawford-like start last week and will tempt the Tigers if he pitches reassuringly during the Southeastern Conference Tournament. He only is 6-foot-1, but has mid-90-mph heat and a superb breaking ball. Definitely a guy to keep in mind if you're tempted to watch the draft's first round on MLB Network.
Alex Gonzalez, RHP, Oral Roberts: Might be available as a later pick, but fits Detroit's profile: 6-3, 200. Power package, good for a 1.76 ERA an opposing batting average of .198, and 125 strikeouts against 23 walks in 107.1 innings.
Ryne Stanek, RHP, University of Arkansas: Only problem with Stanek, who is your basic Tigers-approved big boy (6-4 and 190) is he will no doubt be gone by No. 20.
Billy McKinney, OF, Plano West High School, Plano, Texas: One of the best prep bats in the draft. Tigers scout Tim Grieve sees Dallas-area guys routinely and has gotten an eyeful of McKinney.
Clint Frazier and Austin Meadows, OFs, Loganville, Ga.: Two superb prep outfielders from different high schools in the same town. And both could be gone in the first 10 picks. Tigers, though, have been surprised plenty during past drafts.
Aaron Judge, OF, Fresno State: He is, uh, large: 6-7, 255. And, yes, he can hit the ball into different Congressional districts. But neither will it surprise veteran observers that he has some holes in his swings. Think of Adam Dunn with a right-handed bat.
DJ Peterson, 3B/1B, University of New Mexico: He has a terrific bat and some infield challenges. Tigers might be interested in an Alex Avila-style conversion to catcher.
Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State: Tigers have outfielders galore in their system but won't dismiss a good one, and Renfroe qualifies. He's 6-1, 216, bats right-handed, plays center field, and can hit: .370 during this, his junior year, with an 1.174 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
Austin Wilson, OF, Stanford: Another trophy-sized college junior, 6-5, 245, and right-handed batter, hitting to the tune of .336 with a 1.006 OPS.
Of course, once you theorize the Tigers have a greater chance at drafting a position player than a pitcher as their first-round partner, you generally find that they repeat their past tendencies.
They grab a pitcher, which is still what they would most like to snare June 6.