Detroit — In every draft, from professional baseball to fantasy football, the mantra rarely changes. Best player available, blah, blah, blah.
The Tigers played that soundtrack on a loop late last week, too, ahead of this week's Major League Baseball Draft.
But you have to wonder if that truly was their game play going in to these three days, judging by who the Tigers selected through the first two days.
Of the Tigers' first 10 selections, eight were position players — including, for the first time in the franchise's history, their first six picks. Three times before, the Tigers have used the first five picks on hitters, most recently in 2011 (James McCann, Aaron Westlake, Jason King, Brandon Loy, Tyler Collins, Ugh), and in 1999 and 1986.
But never the first six picks.
Whether they acknowledge it publicly or not, that's a telling admission by Tigers' brass that while they are giddy as can be with the farm system's top-shelf pitching — if they wanted to excite the fans, they could turn the rotation next Opening Day over to Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Beau Burrows — the position-player pool is as shallow as a puddle in Death Valley.
And even at the major-league level, things are quite grim. Think about it. Take a look around the diamond and find more than one or two players who project to be on this team when the rebuild finally starts to take shape.
Christin Stewart? Maybe. JaCoby Jones? Maybe. Dawel Lugo? Maybe, though perhaps a stretch. Miguel Cabrera? Yeah, but only because he's due a gazillion dollars (give or take), and he's a DH now, anyway.
Really, that's about it.
And who's knocking on the door in the minors? Center fielder Daz Cameron, and ... ummm, we'll get back to you on that. Last year's draft class has some promise, but we're a ways from knowing for sure.
Now, the truth this, by most experts' accounts, this draft was far heavier on hitting than pitching, but that's been the case before — and hasn't stopped the Tigers from taking one power arm after another. But you can see why the Tigers did what they did through 10 picks, beyond grabbing high-school center fielder Riley Greene No. 1 overall.
The next three picks were college infielders, Nick Quintana (Arizona), Andre Lipcius (Tennessee) and Ryan Kreidler (UCLA), followed by an outfielder in Bryant Packard (East Carolina), a defense-first catcher in Cooper Johnson (Ole Miss), and then, down the board, shortstop Jack Kenley (Arkansas) and first baseman Jake Holton (Creighton).
The Tigers also used nine of their first 10 picks on college juniors, which could be key in accelerating the rebuild. College players can rise quickly in the minor leagues.
Of course, that also could create a tricky situation for the Tigers' negotiators. The Tigers have $10.4 million to hand out to its first 10 picks, with well more than half of that designated for Greene — who signed swiftly, agreeing to a contract Wednesday.
High-school players and college juniors have the most negotiating flexibility, given if the price isn't right, they can go to or return to college.
The MLB Draft wrapped up Wednesday, with the final 30 rounds.
Tigers' 2019 draft picks
2nd round: Nick Quintana, 21, 3B, University of Arizona, 5-10/187, R/R
3rd round: Andre Lipcius, 21, 3B, University of Tennessee, 6-1/190, R/R
4th round: Ryan Kreidler, 21, SS, UCLA, 6-4/208, R/R
5th round: Bryant Packard, 21, LF, East Carolina, 6-3/200, L/R
6th round: Cooper Johnson, 21, C, Ole Miss, 6-0/215, R/R
7th round: Zack Hess, 22, RHP, LSU, 6-6/219, R/R
8th round: Jack Kenley, 21, SS, University of Arkansas, 6-0/185, L/R
9th round: Austin Bergner, 22, RHP, University of North Carolina, 6-4/200, R/R
10th round: Jake Holton, 21, 1B, Creighton University, 6-0/210, R/R
11th round: John McMillon, 21, OF, Texas Tech, 6-3/230, L/R
12th round: Corey Joyce, 20, SS, N.C. Central, 6-1/190, R/R
13th round: Matt Walker, 20, LHP, Illinois State, 6-3/203, L/L
14th round: Ted Stuka, 22, RHP, UC-San Diego, 6-7/225, R/R
15th round: Andrew Magno, 21, LHP, Ohio State, 5-11/190, R/L
16th round: Kona Quiggle, 21, LF, Grand Canyon University, 6-1/200, S/L
17th round: A.J. Block, 21, LHP, Washington State University, 6-5/218, L/L
18th round: Jared Mang, 22, RF, New Mexico, 5-9/200, R/R
19th round: Kerry Carpenter, 21, LF, Virginia Tech, 6-2/220, L/R
20th round: Andrew Navigato, 21, SS, Oklahoma State, 5-11/188, R/R
21st round: Scott McKeon, 21, 2B, Coastal Carolina, 6-1/180, R/R
22nd round: Cole Zabowski, 21, 1B, Ole Miss, 6-5/240, L/L
23rd round: Griffin Dey, 22, 1B, Yale, 6-2/220, R/R
24th round: Michael Bienlien, 21, RHP, North Carolina State, 6-3/222, R/R
25th round: Josh Coburn, 21, LHP, Kennesaw State, 6-5/195, L/L
26th round: Brendan White, 20, RHP, Siena College, 5-11/185, R/R
27th round: Beau Brieske, 21, RHP, Colorado State-Pueblo, 6-3/200, R/R
28th round: Connor Perry, 22, CF, University of Pittsburgh, 5-11/185, L/L
29th round: Elliott Cary, 23, OF, Oklahoma City University, 6-3/175, L/L
30th round: Cordell Dunn Jr., 19, 3B, Grayson County College (Texas), 6-0/190, R/R
31st round: Bryce Tassin, 22, RHP, Southeastern Louisiana, 6-2/212, R/R
32nd round: Jack Dellinger, 21, RHP, Virginia Tech, 6-6/225, R/R
33rd round: Jimmy Kerr, 22, 3B, University of Michigan, 6-2/205, L/R
34th round: Sam Kessler, 21, RHP, West Virginia, 6-1/192, R/R
35th round: Robert Klinchock, 22, LHP, Shenandoah University, 6-4/230, R
36th round: Pavin Parks, 22, 3B, Kent State University, 6-1/205, L/R
37th round: Kolton Ingram, 22, LHP, Columbus State University, 5-9/170, L/L
38th round: Dan Pruitt, 20, 1B, Western Oklahoma State, 6-6/245, R/R
39th round: Cade Doughty, 18, Denham Springs High School (La.), 6-1/195, R/R
40th round: Gianluca Dalatri, RHP, University of North Carolina, 6-6/250, R/R
2019 local draft picks
2nd round (Diamondbacks): Tommy Henry, 21, LHP, University of Michigan (Portage Northern), 6-3/205, L/L
2nd round (Rockies): Karl Kauffmann, 21, RHP, University of Michigan (Birmingham Brother Rice), 6-2/200, R/R
3rd round (Astros): Jordan Brewer, 21, RF, University of Michigan (St. Joseph), 6-1/195, R/R
5th round (Astros): Hunter Brown, 20, RHP, Wayne State (St. Clair Shores Lakeview), 6-2/203, R/R
12th round (Marlins): Chris Mokma, 18, RHP, Holland High School, 6-4/190, R/R
12th round (Dodgers): Mitchell Tyranski, 21, LHP, Michigan State (Birmingham Brother Rice), 6-2/215, L/L
14th round (Rangers): Adam Berghorst, 18, RHP, Zeeland East High School, 6-7/260, R/R
15th round (Cardinals): David Vinsky, 20, OF, Northwood University (Farmington Hills Harrison), 6-0/198, R/L
20th round (Athletics): Jack Weisenburger, 21, RHP, University of Michigan (Rockford), 6-3/220, R/R
21st round (Yankees): Zach Kohn, 21, RHP, Central Michigan (Gibraltar Carlson), 6-4/190, R/R
22nd round (Rangers): Cameron Wagoner, 17, RHP, Tecumseh High School, 6-5/185, R/R
27th round (Braves): Indigo Diaz, 20, RHP, Michigan State, 6-5/250, R/R
28th round (Rangers): Jake Hoover, 21, SS, Hillsdale College (Armada), 6-0/180, R/R
32nd round (Athletics): Marty Bechina, 22, 2B, Michigan State, 6-0/200, R/R
33rd round (Marlins): Zachary Owings, 21, 1B, Eastern Michigan (Saline), 6-1/195, L/R
33rd round (Tigers): Jimmy Kerr, 22, 3B, University of Michigan, 6-2/205, L/R