Arms race: Tigers round up hurlers in Draft

Tigers load up on arms during Draft

CHICAGO -- Most pundits saw Austin Wood for the astronomical total of 169 pitches he threw in one game for the University of Texas in the NCAA regionals against Boston College. The Tigers saw Wood for the pitches he threw over the course of the season.

As exceptional a situation as Wood presents, he's the type of situation that fit the Tigers' strategy in the early rounds of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. They've looked for talented arms in the past that have fallen for various reasons -- performance, risks or salary expectations -- and now they try for value picks.

In this year's case, that strategy yielded them a heavy crop of arms for the second straight Draft, which they hope will inject some more pitching talent into the farm system.

"I hope so, I really do," Detroit's director of scouting David Chadd said Thursday. "We were talking about that today. It's difficult to sign Major League players out of the Draft period, but when you can sign players down low [it helps]."

Chadd couldn't estimate the effect Wood's pitch count had on his outing, but when he fell to the seventh round, the Tigers decided they couldn't pass him up. He projects to garner a lower pitch count role out of the bullpen, maybe as a left-handed specialist.

As for the wear and tear on his arm, Chadd said the Tigers continued to follow him after the outing in question.

"Our information was that he's fine," Chadd said. "He actually went out after that and threw long toss [the next day]. I really didn't have any problems at all taking Austin Wood with that pick. It's just a matter of what role he's going to be playing."

Likewise, Detroit thinks it has some potential pitching help from the later rounds. Craig Fritsch just finished his redshirt sophomore season at Baylor with a 5.09 ERA, but he showed some late-season dominance that helped him land a ninth-round selection. The Tigers will follow him in the Cape Cod League.

Tobin Mateychick is a tall lefty who has committed to go to Wichita State University, but he was worth the chance if he changes course. Another lefty, Giovanni Soto, was originally in junior college before returning home to his native Puerto Rico.

Tigers -- Top five selections
Pick
POS
Name
School
9RHPJacob TurnerWestminster Christian Academy
58LHPAndrew OliverOklahoma St U
893BWade GaynorWestern Kentucky U
120SSEdwin GomezPuerto Rico BB Academy HS
150LHPAustin WoodU Texas Austin
Complete Tigers Draft results >

Twenty-two of Detroit's 50 Draft picks were pitchers. The first two days saw an even split, with 15 of the top 30 selections being used on hurlers.

Day 3 of the Draft saw a heavy amount of high school players, both fielders and hurlers. The Tigers will continue to follow them into the summer.

"We call them summer follows," Chadd said, "guys probably heading to college."

Day 3 also saw a trio of players selected with Tigers ties. Right-hander Nicholas Avila, a 42nd-round selection out of Central Florida Community College, is a nephew of Tigers vice president/assistant general manager Al Avila, and the cousin of Tigers catching prospect Alex Avila. The Tigers used their next pick, in the 43rd round, on Central Arizona College first baseman Andrew Allen, who is the son of Tigers television broadcaster Rod Allen.

The 48th-round selection went to Jake Porcello, younger brother of Tigers rookie Rick Porcello and a similarly sized right-hander at Seton Hall Prep in New Jersey.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.