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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.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Tigers picks on Day 3 of the MLB Draft include Ben Verlander, Lake Orion's Nick Deeg

DETROIT — There are always familiar (and familial) names among those read off during the annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Saturday was no exception, as the Tigers tabbed a player with the last name “Verlander” in the 14th round, then added one named “Hunter” 22 rounds later.

The Tigers grabbed ace pitcher Justin Verlander’s younger brother, Ben, for the second time in three years, then added outfielder Torii Hunter’s son, two-sport prep star Torii Jr., in the 36th round. Detroit also took a prominent local player, in Lake Orion High School’s Nick Deeg, in Round 37.

“Officially drafted by the Detroit Tigers!!! WOW! So excited!!” Ben Verlander tweeted at 2:20 p.m., shortly after hearing the news. His brother, who was getting ready for Saturday’s midafternoon game against the Indians, found out a bit later.

“I actually found out through our guys up here. I had them watching the draft to see if he got picked and when and they let me know it was the 14th round by us. Super excited for him. He’s worked extremely hard,” Justin Verlander said. “I’m excited for him, I’m excited to see what he does to start his career.”

Detroit originally drafted Ben Verlander in the 46th round of the 2010 draft, but that was more of a favor to the family.

This time, Ben Verlander was drafted more on his game, than his name, having dedicated himself solely to becoming a position player, rather than pitching as well. He was the MVP at Old Dominion University, where Justin had also starred, and is a finalist for the Gregg Olson “Breakout Player of the Year” national award.

“I know after watching this year and talking to some of the guys here, how much he’d matured and become a good baseball player. Obviously it’s not just a favor to draft him. You don’t do that in the 14th round. They see promise in him,” said Justin Verlander, who thought his brother might sign, despite one remaining year of eligibility at ODU.

“I’ve talked to Dave (Dombrowski, the Tigers GM) about him a little bit, he said the guys like him. It wasn’t just one of those scenarios where they were just picking him to do the Verlander family a favor, no. He earned this all on his own. I’m really happy for him.”

Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon, who helped Ben Verlander tweak some things in his hitting stroke before this season — when he jumped from hitting .250 to .367 — was impressed with his improvement.

“I’ve never seen a kid improve as much as he has from one year to the next,” McClendon said in a USA Today feature story about the younger Verlander.

Hunter said he had nothing to do with the Tigers drafting his son, but he thought it was cool, nonetheless.

“It’s a great organization and why wouldn’t I want my son in this organization?” he said.

While the younger Hunter is signed to play both football and baseball at Notre Dame, his father has said before, he’d prefer his son play baseball professionally, given the potential for a longer career.

“It’s whatever he wants. You play a long time in baseball. I’ve proved that. I’ve been playing a while — 20 years in professional ball. But at the same time, he has to find his path and find his way,” Torii Hunter said. “This is my dream, I don’t know what his dream is. I know he loves baseball and football. One day, he’s going to pick and choose — and it might be tomorrow, we don’t know.”

Playing for the hometown team might fit in as Deeg’s dream, too.

“It’s the favorite thing to do, sit down and watch the Tigers play. My favorite players are on the team and it would really be cool to play with them someday,” Deeg told The Oakland Press, after he and his Dragons teammates won a Division 1 regional title on Saturday. “They pretty much told me they are going to see you ptich a few times this summer. They said if things go well we’ll present you an offer, so we’ll see what happens.”

In all, the Tigers selected 28 pitchers and 13 position players, just seven high school seniors and 34 collegians — 10 of them from the SEC.

The MLB Draft continued Saturday with Rounds 11 through 40. Here are the stories from Day 1 and Day 2, along with scouting reports for the Day 1 selections and the Day 2 picks.

Round 11 (Pick 336) 
Chad Green, RHP, University of Louisville • 6-foot-3, 210 pounds
Baseball America scouting report: "Louisville matched a school record with 46 regular-season victories this year, thanks in large part to the three pitchers in their weekend rotation, who all should get drafted in top 10 rounds. Dace Kime and Jeff Thompson figure to go first, but it's Green who was the Cardinals' Friday starter. A 37th-round pick by the Blue Jays out of an Illinois high school in 2010, he spent most of his first two college seasons in the bullpen. He excels at commanding and pitching off his fastball, which sits at 90-92 mph and touches 94. He uses his 6-foot-4, 216-pound frame to pitch on a steep downhill plane. Green has made progress with his slider, but it's still a below-average offering, as is his changeup. He doesn't miss a lot of bats because hitters sit on his fastball, though he does get a lot of early-count groundouts. He could be headed to the bullpen as a pro."

Round 12 (Pick 366) 
Dominic Ficociello, 3B, Arkansas • 6-foot-4, 185 pounds scouting report (VIDEO): "An intriguing switch-hitting prospect in the SEC entering the 2013 season, Ficociello struggled for much of the season, leaving his Draft value somewhat in question. Ficociello had been a solid high school prospect, taken in the 20th round by the Tigers in 2010. An encouraging freshman year led to a so-so sophomore year and he was in and out of the starting lineup for much of his junior year. He has shown good bat speed, leading some to feel that he could develop power down the road. He's played mostly third and first, though he dabbled at second last fall."

Round 13 (Pick 396) 
Austin Green, C, University of San Diego • 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Round 14 (Pick 426) 
Ben Verlander, RF, Old Dominion • 6-foot-4, 190 pounds 
Here is the story from earlier this week, on how Ben — the younger brother of Justin — made himself into a draft-worthy prospect: CLICK HERE

Round 15 (Pick 456) 
Raphael Rhymes, OF, Louisiana State University • 6-foot, 190 pounds

Round 16 (Pick 486) 
Duncan McAlpine, C, Dallas Baptist University • 5-foot-11, 216 pounds

Round 17 (Pick 516) 
Steven Negron, SS, Miami Dade Community College South • 5-foot-8, 175 pounds

Round 18 (Pick 546) 
Jonathan Maciel, RHP, Cal State Long Beach • 6-foot-2, 215

Round 19 (Pick 576) 
Austin Pritcher, RHP, The Citadel • 6-foot-1, 190 pounds

Round 20 (Pick 606) 
Matt Wotherspoon, RHP, Pittsburgh • 6-foot-1, 175 pounds

Round 21 (Pick 636) 
Curt Powell, SS, University of Georgia • 6-foot, 180 pounds

Round 22 (Pick 666)
Daryl Norris, RHP, Mississippi State University • 6-foot-1, 205 pounds

Round 23 (Pick 696)
Tyler Alexander, LHP, Carroll (Texas) High School • 6-foot-3, 180 pounds scouting report (VIDEO): "Alexander has been one of the best high school pitchers in Texas this season, pitching for the school that produced 2012 first-round pick Courtney Hawkins. He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of three straight starts in April, completing one of them. Alexander's fastball sits in the upper-80s, occasionally touching 91 mph, with good sinking action. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup, giving him four pitches with the potential to be Major League-average offerings. Alexander commands all of his pitches well and has a good feel for pitching. He will turn 19 two days after the signing deadline and will be a draft-eligible sophomore in 2015 if he upholds his commitment to TCU."

Round 24 (Pick 726)
Chase Edwards, RHP, Hill College (Texas) • 6-foot-1, 185 pounds

Round 25 (Pick 756)
Johnnie Kirkland, RHP, Southeastern University (Fla.) • 6-foot-1, 200 pounds

Round 26 (Pick 786)
Adrian Castano, LHP, Benjamin Cardozo HS (NY) • 6-foot-3, 180 pounds scouting VIDEO

Round 27 (Pick 816)
Joe Mantiply, LHP, Virginia Tech • 6-foot-4, 200 pounds

Round 28 (Pick 846)
Scott Sitz, RHP, Florida State University • 5-foot-10, 210 pounds

Round 29 (Pick 876)
Charley Sullivan, RHP, Alabama • 6-foot-1, 195 pounds

Round 30 (Pick 906)
Ryan Beck, LHP, New Mexico State • 6-foot-4, 230 pounds

Round 31 (Pick 936)
Brett Huber, RHP, Mississippi • 6-foot-3, 210 pounds

Round 32 (Pick 966)
Tanner Bailey, RHP, Mississippi • 6-foot-6, 235 pounds

Round 33 (Pick 996)
John Armstrong, 2B, Bishop Carroll Catholic HS (Kan.) • 5-foot-10, 175 pounds

Round 34 (Pick 1026)
Brad Holland, 2B, Mesquite HS (Ariz.) • 6-foot-2, 170 pounds

Round 35 (Pick 1056)
A.J. Puk, LHP, Washington HS (Iowa) • 6-foot-6, 205 pounds scouting report (VIDEO): "It can be tough for high schoolers in Iowa to get seen, given the weather and the timing of their season, but Puk did as much as any prepster with his summer performances to offset that. A two-way player who stood out on both sides of the ball at the Area Code Games, Puk also performed well at the Perfect Game All-American Classic. While he has some pop from the left side of the plate, 6-foot-6 lefties who throw up to 93 mph with a breaking ball don't grow on trees. Given the premium placed on left-handed pitching, teams were showing much more interest in him on the mound than at the plate. Puk does like to hit, and if he wants to continue swinging the bat, he could continue on to the University of Florida as a two-way player. But rest assured, scouts were trying to make sure they saw as much of Puk on the mound as possible leading up to the Draft."

Round 36 (Pick 1086)
Torii Hunter Jr., CF, Prosper HS (Texas) • 6-foot-2, 180 pounds scouting VIDEO

Round 37 (Pick 1106)
Nick Deeg, LHP, Lake Orion HS (Mich.) • 6-foot-5, 205 pounds

Round 38 (Pick 1136)
Harrison Wenson, C, University of Detroit Jesuit HS (Mich.) • 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

Round 39 (Pick 1166)
Anfernee Grier, CF, Russell County HS (Ala.) • 6-foot, 170 pounds scouting report (VIDEO):  "The wiry and athletic Grier, who hails from the high school that produced the Rasmus brothers, has some intriguing tools scouts like. A shortstop in high school, Grier's athleticism might play better in the outfield, where his speed should allow him to chase down balls in center. His above-average arm would play well in right field, though he doesn't have the power profile for the corner spot. He should grow into some more pop in the future, though he's not likely to be a huge power guy. Grier is a little raw with the bat and can get a little pull-happy, but there are some skills to work with. The team that feels they can unlock his potential will take him and try to keep him from honoring his commitment to Auburn."

Round 40 (Pick 1196)
Taylor Johnson, 2B, St. Edwards University (Texas) • 5-foot-8, 170 pounds


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