The Tigers made Michigan lefty Trent Szkutnik their 20th-round draft pick Saturday afternoon. (University of Michigan)
Detroit — Trent Szkutnik knew the Tigers had been watching him.
But to actually get that phone call Saturday — yes, Trent, you have been drafted by the Tigers — still came as quite the shock.
“It kind of gives you the goosebumps anytime you get attention from your hometown team,” said Szkutnik, a left-handed pitcher from Temperance Bedford. “Still, it’s really surreal seeing the Detroit Tigers call you.”
The Tigers made Szkutnik, a University of Michigan junior, their 20th-round pick in the Major League Baseball draft, which concluded Saturday.
It’s the highest the Tigers have drafted an in-state college player since they took Central Michigan shortstop Jordan Dean in the 15th round two years ago.
Szkutnik, 20, grew up just north of the Ohio border, so he definitely saw more games in Toledo, the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate.
“Buy a ticket for 7 bucks,” Szkutnik said.
But make no mistake, the Tigers are his team — and Pudge Rodriguez, the legendary catcher, was his favorite player.
Szkutnik was one of 17 pitchers the Tigers took on Day 3 of the draft, out of 30 picks, after focusing a bit more on the position-player front in 10 picks over the first two days.
Szkutnik throws three pitches, but two he really relies on — a two-seam fastball that sits anywhere from 88-92 mph and a tight slider. He also threw bigger, loopy curveball, but went more with the slider the summer between his sophomore and junior seasons — at the request of Michigan assistant coach Sean Kenny — and the switch paid immediate dividends, first in the Cap Cod League.
Then, this season, he saw his ERA drop to a career-best 3.38 and opponents’ batting average slip to .275, also a career best. He struck out 57 in 80 innings this year, in 15 appearances, all starts.
That said, he realizes he’s a smaller lefty — he’s 6-foot, 195 — so his future could very well be in the bullpen.
“I’m just here to play baseball,” Szkutnik said. “Anytime I get in the game, it’s a great opportunity. Wherever they see me fit best is what I’m going to do.”
Szkutnik knew he was likely to get drafted, but didn’t know when — or by whom. That’s standard in the unpredictable baseball draft.
So rather that sit by the TV and computer Friday and Saturday, he kept himself busy with yard work and washing cars. Then, that call came.
And within a few days, he’s likely to sign — and start his career, with the Tigers.
“They knew I wanted to be a Tiger,” said Szkutnik, who in high school led Temperance Bedford to a Division 1 runner-up showing in 2011.
“That’s just awesome.”
In other notable selections, the Tigers drafted:
■Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood left-hander Grant Reuss in the 31st round. He’s committed to the University of Michigan.
■Birmingham Brother Rice catcher Sammy Stevens, a Georgetown commitment, in the 34th round. He’s the son of Derek Stevens, the owner of The D Casino Hotel in Las Vegas.
■Ex-Tiger great Magglio Ordonez’s son, Magglio Jr., in the 38th round. He’s a high-school first baseman from American Heritage in Plantation, Fla.
The complete list
A look at the 40 players drafted by the Tigers in the 2014 MLB draft:
|1||23||Derek Hill||OF||Elk Grove (Calif.) HS|
|3||99||Grayson Greiner||C||South Carolina|
|6||190||Ross Kivett||CF||Kansas State|
|7||220||Joey Pankake||3B||South Carolina|
|10||310||Paul Voelker||RHP||Dallas Baptist|
|11||340||A.J. Ladwig||RHP||Wichita State|
|12||370||Garrett Mattlage||SS||Texas State|
|14||430||Josh Heddinger||RHP||Georgia Tech|
|16||490||Chase Rader||3B||Coffeyville (Kan.) C.C.|
|17||520||Corey Baptist||1B||St. Petersburg|
|23||700||Brett Pirtle||2B||Mississippi State|
|24||730||Gabe Hemmer||RHP||San Diego Christian|
|25||760||Gage Smith||RHP||Florida State|
|26||790||Jack Fischer||RHP||Wake Forest|
|28||850||Will Kengor||SS||Slippery Rock|
|29||880||Jacob Butler||RHP||St. Francis (Ill.)|
|30||910||Spenser Watkins||RHP||Western Oregon|
|31||940||Grant Reuss||LHP||Cranbrook-Kingswood HS|
|32||970||Kenton St. John||LHP||South Alabama|
|33||1,000||Jonathan Perrin||RHP||Oklahoma State|
|34||1,030||Sammy Stevens||C||Brother Rice HS|
|35||1,060||Dave Hollins||3B||Orchard Park (N.Y.) HS|
|36||1,090||Nate Fury||RHP||Louisiana State|
|37||1,120||Patrick Mahomes||RHP||Whitehouse (Texas) HS|
|38||1,150||Magglio Ordonez||1B||American Heritage (Fla.) HS|
|39||1,180||Taylor Sanagorski||C||Bishop Carroll Catholic (Kan.) HS|
|40||1,210||Alex Faedo||RHP||Alonso Senior (Fla.) HS|