Whenever the Tigers gather for Draft Day, there’s a general expectation, based on more than a decade of habits, they’ll take a big, power-armed pitcher with their first pick.
Percentages could hold Monday night.
Then again, this might be the year a position player slips in what is regarded as something of a wide-open draft, which starts at 7 p.m. on MLB Network.
The Tigers have the 18th overall pick in the 2017 sweepstakes and probably would prefer to grab Alex Faedo, a right-hander from the University of Florida who for some time has been on their heavy-inspection list. The problem, at least in Detroit’s view, is Faedo has closed strong for the Gators and almost certainly will be gone by the time Detroit selects.
There are other high-bore arms the Tigers will consider at 18:
■ D.L. Hall, a prep left-hander from Valdosta, Ga., is a natural for Detroit. But he also is craved by teams that pick ahead of the Tigers — Marlins, Pirates, Yankees — and it will be something of a surprise if Hall is unclaimed at 18.
■ Trevor Rogers, another prep left-hander, has had scouts scurrying to Carlsbad, N.M., for up-close examination. He’s 6-foot-6, 185 pounds, and fits the Tigers’ typical, top-of-the-rotation profile.
■ Griffin Canning. He’s a polished starting right-hander from UCLA and is known to have been watched closely by the Tigers, and, for that matter, all 30 teams and their snoops. But some reported issues with his arm have surfaced and his stock is uncertain.
■ Tanner Houck. He is 6-5, pitches for the University of Missouri, and has a delivery and hard repertoire that could transfer to the bullpen if he isn’t better off in a big-league rotation. Whether that projection interests the Tigers sufficiently to make him the 18th overall pick is questionable.
■ Sam Carlson, Burnsville (Minn) High: Not as big (6-3) as the Tigers tend to prefer in the first round, Carlson is nonetheless a thoroughbred. But, again, it seems a long shot the Tigers would bite on Carlson at 18.
■ David Peterson, University of Oregon: He’s a left-hander, 6-6, and might easily be the Tigers’ choice — if he’s ignored by 17 other clubs. That appears doubtful. But in a draft as tough-to-peg as the 2017 talent hunt, Peterson might slip some early blocks.
■ Nate Pearson, Junior College of Central Florida: The Tigers have worked out Pearson at their TigerTown complex in Lakeland, Fla., which would be natural given his proximity — and his 100-mph fastball. The knock on Pearson is that he might be a bullpen-only guy. And the Tigers aren’t wild about taking relievers this early, even when their chronic relief problems might suggest other thoughts.
■ Shane Baz, prep right-hander, Tomball, Texas. Dynamite talent. The Tigers have long liked Baz. But he’s all but sure to be gone, maybe inside of the top 12 picks.
Position-wise, a team that has notorious problems finding bats could be lured into a first-round position move.
There should be options:
■ The Tigers would crawl to Secaucus, N.J., where Monday’s draft will be headquartered, to get an outfielder and hitter as gifted as the University of Virginia’s Adam Haseley. But he will last perhaps eight picks.
■ Austin Beck, a prep outfield stallion from Lexinton, N.C., is loved by the A’s, who select ninth. Not much chance Beck will be around.
■ Jordon Adell is another high-school outfield sprinter who would be deft on Comerica Park’s wide ranges. But he has swing-and-miss issues the Tigers might prefer to avoid, even if he were to last until 18, which is doubtful.
■ Pavin Smith, a first baseman on the same Virginia team for which Haseley plays, is at least a possibility. He bats left-handed and squares up a pitch as well as any hitter in the draft. Expect him to be scarfed up well in advance of 18.
■ Jake Burger, third base, Missouri State: Terrific bat. And terrific interest from the Yankees, among others, which means Burger will be consumed ahead of Detroit’s turn.
■ Evan White, first base, Kentucky: He can play anywhere, and because his bat plays more to a skill position than to a raw-power post at first, it would not surprise if he is taken as a center fielder. White could be unclaimed at 18.
■ Keston Hiura, Cal-Irvine: He might have the best pure bat in this draft. He also has no firm big-league position. He is considered a second baseman, or outfielder, but without a serious defensive pedigree, Hiura might prove risky.
■ Logan Warmoth, shortstop, University of North Carolina: The Tigers know all about Warmoth. And they could be tempted to pop him at 18. Warmoth’s bat is advanced, and his defense should allow him to play, if not shortstop, second base.
■ Jeren Kendall, outfielder, Vanderbilt: He was supposed to have been a very early pick in 2017. But buyers beware: There appear to be strikeout issues here, and the Tigers have taken their notes.
■ Drew Waters, prep outfielder, Woodstock, Ga.: He’s a switch-hitter and splendid athlete whose commitment to the University of Georgia could be quashed if he gets the money guaranteed with that 18th overall pick. Excellent tools across the board. If the Tigers care to gamble on a prep star, Waters has quite the portfolio.
■ Nick Pratto, first baseman, Huntington Beach, Calif.: He’s a two-way star who can pitch, or hit in the manner of conventional first basemen. He’s also a left-handed batter with premier presence for a high school prodigy. Which is why he earlier committed to Southern Cal. But expect first-round money and opportunity to win, and the Tigers might find him too good to pass up if he lasts until 18.
Slightly less mysterious are how the initial picks will fall when Monday’s draft gets rolling, with the Minnesota Twins selecting first.
Among players the Twins could grab is Vanderbilt right-hander Kyle Wright. Hunter Greene, a prep superstar from Sherman Oaks, Calif., will be gone within the first few picks, as will University of Louisville pitcher/slugger Brandon McKay.
So, too, will MacKenzie Gore, a prep left-hander from Whiteville, N.C., and Royce Lewis, a dazzling high school shortstop from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., be disappearing from the board early.
Unlike previous years when the Tigers often forfeited picks because of free-agent investments, Detroit will have all of its turns in the 2017 showcase.
The draft continues Tuesday (rounds 3 through 10) and wraps up Wednesday (rounds 11 through 40).
The Tigers have the 57th overall pick in the second round and will draft 95th overall in the third round.
2017 MLB Draft
Schedule: Rounds 1-2 Monday, rounds 3-10 Tuesday, rounds 11-40 Thursday
TV: On MLB Network Monday, starting at 7 p.m.; other days streamed live at MLB.com
Top prospect: RHP/SS Hunter Greene, Notre Dame High, Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Top local prospects: LHP Alex Troop (Michigan State), LHP Oliver Jaskie (Michigan)
Tigers’ first pick: No. 18 in the first round