TigsTools: 2012 MLB Draft Tigers Edition

Devon Travis earns praise for his tools

After a great discussion with Director of Scouting David Chadd to recap this year's draft in general, it is now time to take a deeper look at some of the individual picks and best tools in this year's Tigers draft class.

Best Fastball

Allatoona High School right-hander Clate Schmidt (36th round) brings the biggest pure velocity to the table. He showed 96-97 mph heat to area scouts in short bursts this spring and could show it more frequently as he matures and improves his delivery. Right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson (2nd round) and Drew VerHagen (4th round) both pitch in the low-90s consistently and can touch higher at times. Verhagen flashed more consistent 96 mph fastballs late in his college season.

Best Breaking Ball

Fifth round pick Joe Rogers out of Central Florida will show an above-average curveball that can miss bats at its best. He showed improved feel for the pitch in 2012 and it gave him a second reliable offering that keeps hitters off balance. Jake Thompson's slider shows plus at times but lacks the consistency to earn consistent 60 grades.

Best Change-up

Josh Turley (16th round) doesn't blow scouts away with his fastball velocity or physicality, but he does offer a legitimate plus change-up that has been an equalizer for him throughout his college career. He works from the same arm slot as his fastball and maintains his arm speed exceptionally well, giving him tons of deception with the pitch.

Best Command

Florida right-hander Hudson Randall, along with Turley and Oklahoma left-hander Jordan John all flash plus command right now. All three pitchers have clean deliveries and a good feel for their craft, giving them projection to settle in with true plus command over the long haul.

Highest Upside – Pitcher Edition

Schmidt and Thompson both have the upside to be impact pitchers down the line. Thompson's present physicality forces scouts to lean in his direction much of the time, but Schmidt's raw arm strength and intriguing potential also garner attention. Scouts are split on Schmidt's ultimate role on the mound, but Thompson earns consistent marks as a potential workhorse number three starter.

Sleeper – Pitcher Edition

It's hard to call a pitcher taken in the seventh round a sleeper, but Hudson Randall has everything necessary to defy the odds and make it to the big leagues without knockout stuff. His fastball generally sits in the 88-90 range and will touch 92 at times, but he commands it exceptionally well and knows how to add and subtract velocity to his advantage. His curveball, change-up and cutter all have their moments as at least average pitches and he also commands those in the lower half of the strike zone. Randall only has back of the rotation potential, but he often gets completely overlooked because of his middling raw stuff, and that shouldn't happen when looking at his entire skill set.

Best Hitter

Florida State second baseman Devon Travis (13th round) is an outstanding athlete that has a knack for barreling the ball and using the whole field. He has a solid approach that allows him to find pitches he can drive, and when he does, he knows what to do with them. Fifteenth round pick Jordan Dean may surprise folks with his hitting ability. He has a great feel for the barrel and a solid track record of hitting with wood. Dylan LaVelle (18th round) also has good feel for hitting and could project as an above-average to plus hitter.

Best Power

The Tigers didn't draft a ton of power this year but did add two players with above-average to plus raw power potential. Vanderbilt outfielder Connor Harrell and Mississippi slugger Zach Kirksey went in the 29th and 31st rounds, respectively. Kirksey has already agreed to terms with the Tigers and could start in Connecticut, where his power will be put to the test in the tough offensive environment of the New York-Penn League. Harrell may be a tougher sign given the track record for signing Vanderbilt underclassmen, but if he does, he has an exciting blend of power and speed that will be on display.

Best Speed

Third round pick Austin Schotts will flash 70-grade times in both the 60-yard dash and on digs from home to first. His speed should continue to play better in games as he gets more experience. Miguel Paulino is another very good runner that will turn in plus-plus times down the line. He has been clocked as well as a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash as a football player. Rashad Brown (26th round) will also show plus to plus-plus running times. Connor Harrell, Jake Stewart, Devon Travis and Jordan Dean will all show above-average to plus times from home to first.

Best Defense

Scouts rave about Miguel Paulino's defensive abilities, noting that he has always been an exceptional defender. He has great instincts for the position and his plus-plus speed helps his abilities play up even more. Jake Stewart can also go get it in center field. Despite only routinely showing above-average speed, his jumps and routes are on point and he can track things down from gap to gap. Harrell plays sound center field defense as well. Ben Pickar is one of college baseball's premier defensive catchers and most of his skills should translate to pro ball immediately. Devon Travis' athleticism allows him to play a very nice second base. If you like projection, third rounder Austin Schotts could be a plus defender in center field once he learns the position.

Best Arm

Third baseman Dylan LaVelle shows off a plus arm from the left side of the infield and his arm should play with a move to third base as a pro. Jake Stewart and Ben Pickar also show plus arms from their positions, with Pickar's standing out more from behind the plate. Paulino can show a plus to plus-plus arm and has reached 93 mph off the mound.

Best Athlete

Schotts, Travis, Paulino and Harrell stand out most as the premium athletes from this draft class. Travis' athleticism shines the most during game action but Schotts is only a half-tick behind in that regard. Jake Stewart has earned high marks for his athleticism in the past but he has stiffened up in recent years and while still a good athlete, isn't in the class of the other three players noted here.

Highest Upside – Hitter Edition

It is hard to argue with third rounder Austin Schotts having the highest upside among position players in this year's class. Players like Dylan LaVelle, Connor Harrell, Miguel Paulino and Rashad Brown could all put things together and surprise scouts with an explosion of their raw tools, but that would require a perfect world. Schotts offers speed, hitting ability and pop in his bat, all of which should play in games as he develops. His package of tools also gives him a chance to stick up the middle in addition to his offensive potential.

Sleeper – Hitter Edition

Devon Travis, Jordan Dean and Dylan LaVelle all merit discussion here, but I'm siding with Westlake High School outfielder Rashad Brown as the sleeper in this year's draft class. Brown is tooled up, most notably with his easy plus speed and a very athletic frame that stands out on the field. He has potential in all five tools, though he remains extremely raw and will require a ton of developmental time.

Toughest Sign

Early reports have Schmidt all but heading to campus in the fall where he will play for Clemson for three years, possibly as a two-way player. Jacob Kapstein will be another difficult player to sign, despite the fact his older brother is already in pro ball with the Red Sox. In the earlier rounds, fourth rounder Drew VerHagen could command a small amount more than his bonus pool allotment and 20th rounder Logan Ehlers has turned down big money before, leaving the perception that he could be a difficult sign.

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