The Tigers were open to different paths entering Day 2 of the Major League Baseball Draft on Tuesday, after taking a top-flight pitcher and a huge-upside position player in the first two rounds Monday.
"We've talked about this many times, but we're always going to take the best players," said Scott Pleis, the Tigers' director of amateur scouting. "We don't want to pass on a player that's better just because we think we might have a need somewhere else.
"It's a boring answer, but we're gonna take the best guy."
Not so boring was the Tigers' first pick Tuesday.
To start the third round, the Tigers selected a pedigree guy — University of Texas second baseman Kody Clemens; yes, the son of legendary pitcher Roger Clemens. They took a third consecutive position player to start the fourth-round, high-school center fielder Kingston Liniak of Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, Calif.
A 6-foot, 185-pound left-handed slugger, Clemens has hit .344 with 21 home runs this season with Texas, which is getting set to face Tennessee Tech in an NCAA Super Regional. Clemens hit two of those home runs in beating rival Texas A&M on Saturday.
The next day, Clemens drove in the winning run against Indiana.
Clemens, who had Tommy John surgery early on in his collegiate career, is the youngest of four Clemens boys. Koby was an eighth-round pick by the Houston Astros in 2005, and Kacy was an eighth-round pick by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017.
Kody Clemens, 22, at the 79th overall pick, has a recommended slot value of $750,800.
Roger Clemens, of course, was an ace pitcher for 24 years with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays, winning 354 games and seven Cy Youngs. He finished his career with 4,672 strikeouts, 20 of those coming Sept. 18, 1996, at Tiger Stadium, four months after Cody was born. (Travis Fryman led the way with four whiffs, Tony Clark had three, and five other Tigers had two.)
Roger Clemens, obviously, would be in Baseball's Hall of Fame if not for rampant steroid-use speculation.
Liniak, 18, is 6-2 and 170 pounds. At the 105th overall pick, he has a slot value of $533,300, and is committed to the University of San Diego. He bats right-handed and throws right-handed. This season, he's batting .456 with four home runs, 25 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .578. He's stolen 30 bases.
On Monday, the Tigers, not unexpectedly, took Auburn right-hander Casey Mize, who "has MLB-stuff right now" according to Pleis, with the No. 1 overall pick.
In the second round, Detroit took a high-school center fielder from Georgia named Parker Meadows, a 6-foot-5 lumberjack of a left-handed hitter who's the brother of Pirates rookie slugger Austin Meadows as well as a Clemson commitment.
Other Tigers' picks Tuesday
►Fifth round: Adam Wolf, 21, LHP, University of Louisville (junior), 6-6/229 (slot: $398,300).
►Sixth round: Hugh Smith, 21, RHP, Whitworth College, Spokane, Wash. (junior), 6-10/214 (slot: $297,800).
►Seventh round: Eric De La Rosa, 21, OF, Grossmont College (JUCO), El Cajon, Calif., 6-4/175 (slot: $231,900).
►Eighth round: Jeremiah Burks, 21, SS, Fresno State (junior), 6-1/175 (slot: $182,900).
►Ninth round: Tarik Skubal, 21, LHP, Seattle University (senior), 6-3/215 (slot: $154,700).
►10th round: Brock Deatherage, 21, OF, North Carolina State (senior), 6-1/175 (slot: $143,300).
The three-day draft wraps up Wednesday, with the final 30 rounds, starting at noon.
Other notable moves Tuesday
►Jayce Easley, the son of former Tigers second baseman Damion Easley, was taken in the fifth round (149th overall) by the Texas Rangers. He's a high-school shortstop from Arizona. Easley played seven seasons in Detroit (1996-2002), making an All-Star team in 1998 (27 homers, 100 RBIs).
►Terrin Vavra, the son of Tigers' quality-control coach Joe Vavra, went in the third round (96th overall) to the Colorado Rockies. He is a shortstop at the University of Minnesota.
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