Tigers 'confident' they'll sign prep flamethrower Burrows

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Beau Burrows

They had gotten to bed at 3 a.m. after a long night and day filled with tension, decisions, and perhaps a few prayers.

And at 8 a.m. Tuesday, the Tigers' scouting unit was back at it, preparing for rounds 3 through 10 in the big-league draft that continued a day after the Tigers took two starting pitchers and a left-handed hitting outfielder in the 2015 lottery's opening rounds.

Beau Burrows, a Texas prep right-hander who was the Tigers' first-round pick Monday, had the requisite high-velocity fastball (up to 97 mph) Detroit always loves, as well as a special extra pitch that impressed David Chadd, the Tigers' director of amateur scouting.

"He's got an excellent feel for a change-up, which you rarely see in high school," Chadd said during a Tuesday conference call, adding: "I'm confident we'll sign him. We wouldn't have taken him if we didn't think we could.

"But his breaking ball is fine, and his fastball two weeks ago was 93 to 97, and 97 in the seventh (inning)."

The other quality the Tigers liked in a 6-foot-2, 200-pound star from Weatherford (Texas) High was something they have grown accustomed to see from present and past rotation aces – Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and David Price.

It was a "competitiveness," Chadd said, which the Tigers and area scout Chris Wimmer found irresistible in an 18-year-old who is expected to work for the Tigers in the Gulf Coast League once he signs.

"Just watching him pitch, and how he competes on the field. We exhaust all our resources to find out the makeup of a player. His coach, his summer coach – everybody's involved. A lot goes into it."

Chadd also expanded upon the Tigers' two picks after they had taken Burrows with the No. 22 overall selection. Christin Stewart, a junior from the University of Tennessee, was grabbed at No. 34 overall for his power-hitting potential, while Texas Christian sophomore Tyler Alexander was snatched (No. 65 overall) two years after the Tigers had first taken the left-hander in the 23rd round of the 2013 draft – before he opted for his TCU scholarship.

"We've been scouting Christin since high school," said Chadd, explaining that Stewart had tied the Georgia state prep record for home runs during his career at Lawrenceville, Ga. "We've been following him. He was Team USA's leading hitter by over 100 points last year. He has power and the ability to hit. He's athletic.

"We think his defense will be fine," Chadd said, knocking down criticisms of Stewart's glove and arm. "We do think he's a left-fielder, and his defense is going to be fine."

Chadd said a potential left-hand starting prospect, Alexander, reminded him and his scouting cohorts of former Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly, who now pitches for the Rays following last July's trade for David Price.

The Tigers drafted Alexander in 2013 following his senior season at Southlake (Texas) Carroll High. Chadd said the Tigers' persistence in 2015 was due to a single difference.

"I think we saw physical development," Chadd said. "In high school, he was 6-3, 165. Now, he's 6-3, 190, 195. All his pitches have been moving upward, and he's still only 20 years old.

"He has a knack for throwing strikes (eight walks in 78 innings in 2015), and pitches off his fastball (88-92, Chadd said), and he's another fierce competitor.

"At TCU, he developed into the pitcher we thought he was. And I think his better days are ahead of him."

The Tigers and 29 rival clubs will continue with the draft when round three begins at 1 p.m.

Rounds 11-40 are set for Wednesday.