Good Lynn Henning article on the Tigers drafting Andrew Miller
How good is Miller?
Good enough to where a 6-foot-6 left-hander whom the Tigers got with the sixth overall selection Tuesday would have been a No. 1 pick in about any draft. Scouts made up their mind about Miller last summer when he blew away hitters in the summer Cape Cod League, a wooden-bats league, where the best college talent each year competes.
If you dominate on the Cape, you have a chance to dominate in the big leagues.
Miller was just as good in Friday night's NCAA Super Regional game, which North Carolina won, 11-5, over Alabama. Miller went seven innings, gave up no earned runs, five hits and struck out 11.
In 406 at-bats against him in 2006, hitters have seven extra-base hits off him: six doubles and a home run.
He has, as the scouts say, a "plus-plus" fastball and slider, and a two-seam fastball that he throws as his third pitch. What the scouts like about him is he throws inside with precision and intent. They see Miller breaking a lot of bats to go with even more strikeouts when he turns pro.
Why did five other teams let him slip?
The Tigers first got wind about midnight Monday the draft's consensus No. 1 pick was going to drop, perhaps into their hands. Kansas City, Colorado, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Seattle were nervous about the money Miller and his agent, Mark Rodgers, of Palm City, Fla., were going to hold out for, which was said to be something in the neighborhood of the $9 million Mark Prior got from the Cubs in 2001.
For some clubs, it was not so much the money as the reality they would probably be haggling with Miller for months to come.
They wanted predictable, big league talents that they could get into their systems in a hurry. Miller figures to be expensive, even if a team could sign him before the minor league season ends, which seems unlikely.
Why did the Tigers bite?
Scouting director David Chadd had to check with his bosses, owner Mike Ilitch and president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, before he could even think about taking Miller in Tuesday's first round.
The brass gave him the go-ahead to get the best player on the board. The Tigers never imagined Miller was going anywhere but No. 1, which is why they never discussed him in the days and weeks ahead of the draft.
All along, however, he was the first player on the draft board, as he was for nearly everyone else.
Will the Tigers sign him?
Be prepared for a long vigil. The guess here is, yes, but it seems unlikely Detroit, Miller and Rodgers will be tying up anything until this autumn, at the earliest (Detroit has until the end of next May to reach agreement, at which time Miller would re-enter the 2007 draft).
The Tigers will want to offer money closer to what last year's first pitcher taken, Mike Pelfrey, got from the Mets ($5.25 million). Pelfrey, by the way, would have been Detroit's pick over outfielder Cameron Maybin had the Mets not taken him one spot ahead of the Tigers in the June 2005 draft.
Rodgers and Miller will argue that Miller is every bit as hot and as talented as Prior was when the Cubs paid him $9 million out of Southern Cal in 2001.
Which side will win?
Both, probably. The Tigers are not going to get Miller for Pelfrey money. Pelfrey was the ninth player selected overall in 2005; Miller was the sixth, as well as the consensus best talent.
Rodgers and Miller, likewise, will have a tough time commanding $9 million. The Cubs overpaid five years ago for a pitcher who has since won 41 games. Most big league teams would see that as a non-binding precedent.
What are the risks?
Again, they exist for both sides. Rodgers and Miller got a boost Tuesday when Luke Hochevar went as the first overall pick to Kansas City a year after his agent, Scott Boras, refused to sign with the Dodgers. It showed a talented college pitcher can sit out a year and help, rather than hurt, his market value. Miller, though, would have to balk at $6 million or so from the Tigers and expect that he could do significantly better with another club next June. There is no guarantee it would happen. Meanwhile, an important year devoted to his big league progress -- and to the hefty paydays that are almost sure to follow for him -- would have been lost.
What did Kansas City get in Hochevar?
The Royals got a good pitcher with the potential to be an excellent big league pitcher. But know this: The Tigers did not have him in their top 10 picks. They threw his name out ahead of the draft to be politically correct -- to avoid insulting a celebrated right-hander from Tennessee.
But it was known in advance they did not like the way his fastball tended to fade over a season, and even in a game, nor were they wild about his temperament when bad things happened.
Hochevar then turned off a lot of people at his Tuesday news conference when he badmouthed the Dodgers for not having signed him originally.
Did the Tigers reach to draft Ohio State's Ronnie Bourquin in the second round?
Most of the draft handicappers thought so. The Tigers instead jumped at a chance to grab a 6-3, 210-pound left-handed hitter who was Big Ten player of the year.
Tigers scouts first got interested in Bourquin (he will likely play third base) when they saw him play early this spring against Florida. Area scouts stayed on him, Chadd saw him play twice, and everyone one of them were sold. They believe he has an excellent approach at the plate and the potential to add power.
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