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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Tigers draft, Day 3

After grabbing Big Ten MVP Jeff Holm from Michigan State on Tuesday, you had to kind of wonder if Spartan head coach Jake Boss was picking for the Tigers Wednesday in the MLB First-Year Player Draft the way the final day's picks played out.

After an emphasis on college position players from power conferences — four SEC players and two Big 12 players among their first nine picks — the Tigers stayed college-heavy on Day 3, raiding the state’s schools.

The Tigers took two Western Michigan pitchers and another from Central Michigan.

But the biggest run was on Spartans. Following up with the pick of Holm in the 12th round Tuesday, the Tigers grabbed team defensive MVP Brandon Eckerle (right), the Big Ten batting champ and the program’s all-time hit leader, in Wednesday’s 32nd round.

The Tigers also took a trio of future Spartans — commits Blaise Salter (Orchard Lake St. Mary’s), Ryan Krill (Portage Central) and Jimmy Pickens (Birmingham Brother Rice) — on Wednesday. Salter (right) is the grandson of Tigers legend Bill Freehan.

They weren’t done with local talent, either, grabbing Madison Heights Lamphere catcher Greg Fettes (below, right), a Kentucky commit, in the 43rd round.

After that, there were several legacy picks, as the Tigers nabbed Nick Avila — the nephew of assistant GM Al Avila — Kansas high schooler Tucker Chadd — the nephew of VP of Amateur Scouting David Chadd — and Alexander Fernandez — the son of former White Sox and Marlins pitcher Alex Fernandez, who earned a World Series ring with Tigers manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski in Florida in 1997.

The Tigers also drafted the progeny of both members of their Fox Sports Detroit TV crew, tabbing Rod Allen’s son, Andrew, in Round 45, and play-by-play man Mario Impemba’s son, Brett, with their next-to-last pick.

Round Player Position School
31 (947), Brian Stroud, RHP, Western Michigan
32 (977), Brandon Eckerle, CF, Michigan State
33 (1007), Daniel Kickham, RHP, Missouri State
34 (1037), Zachary Maggard, C, Florida Southern
35 (1067), Eric Heckaman, RHP, Western Michigan
36 (1097), Jake Sabol, RHP, Central Michigan (De La Salle)
37 (1127), Nick Avila, RHP, Nova Southeastern
38 (1157), Blaise Salter, C, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s HS
39 (1187), Cole Brocker, RHP, Sacramento City CC
40 (1217), Ryan Krill, 1B, Portage Central HS
41 (1247), Jimmy Pickens, OF/C, Birmingham Brother Rice
42 (1277), Tucker Chadd, C, Bishop Carroll Catholic HS (KS)
43 (1307), Greg Fettes, C, Madison Heights Lamphere HS
44 (1337), Chretien Matz, OF, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
45 (1367), Andrew Allen, 1B, Cal-State Los Angeles
46 (1397), Alexander Fernandez, OF, Archbishop McCarthy HS (FL)
47 (1427), Ryan McPhail, C, Dutch Fork HS (SC)
48 (1457), Lavaris McCullough, CF, Palatka HS (FL)
49 (1487), Brett Impemba, C, Macomb Dakota HS
50 (1517), Brandon Weber, OF, Bishop Carroll Catholic (KS)

Brian Stroud, 6-4, 215, redshirt junior

Was 8-4, 3.20 ERA, 101.1 IP 74/25 K-BB ratio as a senior. Was named second-team All-MAC. (missed most of junior season with injury). Went 6-0 as a freshman to earn MAC Freshman of the Year honors.

Brandon Eckerle, 6-0, 175, senior
Corunna HS grad. Started every game (164) in center for Spartans in past three seasons. Left MSU as all-time hits leader (261), and second in runs scored (158). Hit .360 as a junior, .379 as a senior to win Big Ten batting title. Voted team’s Defensive Player of the Year. First-team All-Big Ten (along with 1B Holm [Player of Year], Torsten Boss, P Kurt Wunderlich [POY] and P Tony Bucciferro). Earned Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor and Chester Brewer Leadership Award.

Daniel Kickham, 6-4, 205, junior
Twin brother, Mike, was a sixth-round pick of SF Giants last year.
Relief pitcher (25 app.) with a 1.84 ERA, 29.1 IP, 24 K/16 BB, .192 BA against.

Zachary Maggard, 6-0, 195, senior
Hit .291 with 13-2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI, threw out 11 of 24 attempted base stealers. Teammate of Tigers 26th-round pick Colin Kaline.

Eric Heckaman, 6-2, 215, senior
Converted to a reliever in 2011, and went 2-4 with a 1.64 ERA in 21 appearances, 24 K/20 BB ratio, .270 BA against. Went 0-9 as a junior with an 8.91 ERA as a starter, logging the most innings of any WMU pitcher. Hard luck loser, though. Had a no-hitter through 10 vs. EMU in April, before losing in the 11th.

Jake Sabol, 6-5, 225, senior
Was 5-3 for MAC West champ Chippewas with a 4.13 ERA in 80.2 IP. Had 53/13 K-BB ratio. Had 3 CG, two shutouts. A graduate of Warren De La Salle.

Nick Avila, 6-2, 220, senior
Was 5-1 with 3.83 ERA in 94.0 IP, 50/15 K-BB ratio, .304 BA against for Division II Nova Southeastern, which made its first NCAA postseason appearance in 2011. Is the nephew of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila, the cousin of starting catcher Alex Avila.

Blaise Salter, 6-5, 225, HS senior
Grandson of Tigers great and former Michigan coach Bill Freehan, Salter is signed to play at Michigan State. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound cather was ranked the No. 5 player in Michigan after all-state first team selection in junior season, hitting .410 with four HR and 41 RBI.

Cole Brocker, 6-3, 205, sophomore
Was 2-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 13 relief appearances for the Panthers. Had a 24-4 K-BB ratio and a .138 BA against. Teammate Kyle Devore (11-0) was picked by the Rangers in the 27th round.

Ryan Krill, 6-4, 210, HS senior
Another Michigan State signee, the left-handed-hitting Krill hit .500 as a sophomore and .474, as a junior, and bounced back up to .500 as a senior for the top-ranked Mustangs. Has 16-2Bs, 4-3Bs, five HRs, 47 RBI and 43 runs, while not striking out yet in his senior season. Selected for MHSBCA All-Star game at Comerica. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, Krill is also a tight end in football.

Jimmy Pickens, 6-2, 210, HS senior
The third Michigan State commit drafted by the Tigers on Wednesday. Ranked one spot behind Salter by Perfect Game, Pickens earned four letters each in baseball and football at Birmingham Brother Rice. The left-hander hit .418 with five HRs, 31 RBI as a junior. One older brother, Doug, played at MSU and is in the Indians organization, while another brother, Ryan, played football at Western Michigan.

Tucker Chadd, 6-1, 205, HS senior
Hit .451 as a sophomore, .420 with four HRs and 29 RBI as a junior, earning second-team all-state honors, leading BCC to a 5-A state runner-up finish. Committed to Barton Community College. The nephew of Tigers VP of Amateur Scouting, David Chadd.

Greg Fettes, 6-3, 205, HS senior
A Kentucky commit, Fettes is one of the top prep catchers in the state, behind Divine Child’s Eric Haase (7th round, Cleveland) and Salter (38th round, Detroit). Hit .500 with a school-record 11 HRs as a junior, earning all-state honors and leading Lamphere to the regional finals, where the Rams lost to Haase’s eventual state championship team.

Chretien Matz, 6-0, 195, senior
Second team all-Southwest Athletic Conference as a senior. He’s the nephew of Ernie Young, the manager of Tigers Class A affiliate West Michigan.

Andrew Allen, 6-4, 230, junior
The son of the Tigers’ color commentator Rod Allen, the first baseman was drafted in the 43rd round of the 2007 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks out of high school in Phoenix, and again in the 43rd round by the Tigers in 2009. Played in just 17 games (eight starts) and hit .167 with one triple and five RBI. Hit .289 as a freshman at Central Arizona JC in 2009, but missed most of his sophomore season with injury.

Alexander Fernandez, 5-10, HS senior
The son of former Major League pitcher Alex Fernandez, the younger Fernandez played at Archbishop McCarthy High School, where his father is director of baseball operations. The school also produced current Tiger catcher Alex Avila and 2010 second-round pick Nick Castellanos. The elder Fernandez played for the Marlins’ World Series champs in 1997, a team managed by current Tigers manager Jim Leyland, and assembled by current Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

Ryan McPhail, 6-1, 190, HS senior
A switch hitter committed to Spartanburg (SC) Methodist College, a junior college, Ryan is the son of Mets area scout Marlin McPhail.

Lavaris McCullough, 6-1, 180, HS senior
Committed to Daytona State College, a junior college.

Brett Impemba, 6-0, 165, HS senior
The son of the other member of the Fox Sports Detroit TV crew, play-by-play man Mario Impemba, and is committed to play baseball at Oakland University. (For full disclosure, his father is the play-by-play voice of the OU Grizzlies men’s basketball team, too.)

Brandon Weber, 6-0, 180, HS senior
The teammate of Tucker Chadd, Weber is the fourth player the Tigers have drafted out of Bishop Carroll Catholic in four years — not surprising since it’s in the back yard of VP of Amateur Scouting David Chadd, Tucker’s uncle.

Other locals
46-1393 Zach Cooper LHP Central Michigan (Hartland)
49-1493 Mick VanVossen RHP GR Forest Hills Central

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