If the Tigers ever needed a slam-dunk with their first-round draft pick, it is in 2016, and not only because the ninth overall slot generally offers a shot at a potential All-Star.
It has to do with their hiatus afterward. They don’t have second- or third-round turns, which were lost when they signed a couple of costly free agents, Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton.
The Tigers and their 29 big-league partners will convene June 9 for the draft’s first round and compensation picks. Rounds 2 through 40 will be completed on June 10 and 11.
There is a growing consensus that nine billboard players could go in the first nine turns, with order being the only mystery.
The Tigers would love Kansas prep right-hander Riley Pint, who throws 102 mph. But it’s a certainty the 6-foot-4 Pint will be gone early. Another probable Tigers target, Puerto Rican shortstop Delvin Perez, is also expected to have been scarfed up by the time Detroit selects.
The same holds true for draft prizes on the level of California high school outfielder Mickey Moniak, who has a chance to be the first player grabbed, by the Phillies. Mercer outfielder Kyle Lewis would be slurped by the Tigers in a nanosecond if he slipped to nine, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, nor is it imaginable that Florida left-hander A.J. Puk will fall.
It leaves the Tigers with a greater likelihood they’ll settle on an abundantly talented player from the following group:
* Nick Senzel, a right-handed hitting third baseman from a college the Tigers have favored in recent drafts, the University of Tennessee. Senzel is an ally of kingpin agent Scott Boras, which has never overly bothered the Tigers.
* Dakota Hudson, right-hander, Mississippi State. He's 6-5, 215 pounds, and has a power arm that corresponds to every potential top-of-the-rotation right-hander the Tigers have scouted during the past 15 years.
* Blake Rutherford, a prep outfielder from Simi Valley, Calif. He’s 6-2, 190, bats left-handed, and just turned 19. Has speed to match his advanced bat.
* Matt Manning, another California prep star, and in this case a right-handed pitcher who stands 6-6 and whose basketball skills (his father, Rich, played in the NBA) have helped reduce wear-and-tear normally part of a standout prep star’s pitching history.
* Josh Lowe, of Marietta, Ga., and a left-handed hitting third baseman (Pope High). Or, a right-handed pitcher. There’s some debate on which role will be best for Lowe, whose talents are mutually attractive.
* If there’s a potential surprise pick the Tigers are mulling, it could be Georgia prep outfielder Taylor Trammell (no relation to a certain Tigers star). Trammell is a 6-2, 195-pound, left-handed hitting outfielder whose primary sport is football, which partly explains his Georgia Tech commitment. But he is considered first-round baseball talent and an athlete who understands baseball could offer a longer and more attractive career option.
Other possibilities exist when drafts are loaded with mildly shocking events. Two potential Tigers blindsides: Zach Collins, a left-handed hitting catcher from the University of Miami, and Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn.
No matter how it shakes out on June 9, the Tigers figure to get an excellent prospect. And, with no draft backups until the fourth round, they’ll need to make sure this player merits a No. 9 overall investment.
When: First round (and compensation picks), 6 p.m., June 9. Rounds 3-10, 1 p.m., June 10; rounds 11-40, 11 a.m., June 11.
TV: MLB Network, June 9.
Tigers: Detroit will have the ninth overall selection in the draft’s first round. The Tigers will not draft again until the fourth round due to loss of picks following free-agent signings of Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton.
1. Philadelphia Phillies
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Atlanta Braves
4. Colorado Rockies
5. Milwaukee Brewers
6. Oakland Athletics
7. Miami Marlins
8. San Diego Padres
9. Detroit Tigers
10. Chicago White Sox
11. Seattle Mariners
12. Boston Red Sox
13. Tampa Bay Rays
14. Cleveland Indians
15. Minnesota Twins
16. Los Angeles Angels
17. Houston Astros
18. New York Yankees
19. New York Mets
20. Los Angeles Dodgers
21. Toronto Blue Jays
22. Pittsburgh Pirates
23. St. Louis Cardinals
24. San Diego Padres (compensation for Justin Upton)
25. San Diego Padres (compensation for Ian Kennedy)
26. Chicago White Sox (compensation for Jeff Samardzija)
27. Baltimore Orioles (compensation for Wei-Yin Chen)
28. Washington Nationals (compensation for Jordan Zimmermann)
29. Washington Nationals (compensation for Ian Desmond)
30. Texas Rangers (compensation for Yovani Gallardo)
31. New York Mets (compensation for Daniel Murphy)
32. Los Angeles Dodgers (compensation for Zack Greinke)
33. St. Louis Cardinals (compensation for John Lackey)
34. St. Louis Cardinals (compensation for Jason Heyward)