Implemented in 1965, Major League Baseball introduced a league-based draft, and ever since then, the Detroit Tigers, along with the other teams in the league, have been selecting draft-eligible players for their respective franchises
Unlike most professional sports drafts where the draft takes place after the conclusion of a previous season, MLB’s draft takes place about three-quarters of the way through the season, usually in early June (or in July this year).
Many players have gone on to be superstars and some have found their way out of the league, much early than anticipated, as is the case with any professional sport.
The Tigers as we know are a storied franchise. Established in 1901, many many great players have donned the old English D. Major Leagues.
Here are the Detroit Tigers‘ Top 5 Draft Picks of all time…
LANCE PARRISH – 1st Round, No. 16 overall in 1974 Draft
Know as ‘The Big Wheel’ in the Motor City, Lance Parrish was a staple behind the plate for the Tigers. Parrish spent 10 seasons with the Tigers. He was a 6-time All-Star with Detroit, while also earning three Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Glove Awards along the way.
Parrish was phenomenal at throwing runners out that were attempting to steal a base. His Caught Stealing % was always near the top of the AL and even the entire league. The Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Toronto Blue Jays were stops in Lance Parrish’s major league career.
He will always be known as a Tiger great.
KIRK GIBSON – 1st Round, No. 12 overall in 1978 Draft
Simply known to Tiger fans as ‘Gibby’, Kirk Gibson spent 9 seasons with the Tigers. Plenty of big hits came courtesy of Gibson’s bat.
One, in particular, stands out more than others when we wore a Tigers uniform. In the 1984 World Series against the San Diego Padres, Gibby would hit a series-clinching 3-run home run off Padres’ reliever Goose Gossage in Game 5 at old Tiger Stadium.
It was a moment that will forever live in the lives of Tiger fans. He would also go on to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, and Pittsburgh Pirates during his major league career. Since his playing days, Gibson has managed the Arizona Diamondbacks where he won the 2011 NL Manager of the Year Award.
He now splits time with Rod Allen and Jack Morris as a color commentator for Detroit Tigers’ broadcasts.
LOU WHITAKER – 5th Round, No. 99 overall in 1975 Draft
Better known as ‘Sweet Lou’, Lou Whitaker will go down as one of the best second basemen, not just in Tigers history but in major league history.
Having such chemistry with fellow ‘double play’ mate Alan Trammell, Whitaker made the tough plays look so routine. He spent his entire career with the Detroit Tigers. While donning a Tiger uniform, Lou Whitaker won the 1978 AL Rookie of the Year, went to five All-Star Games, and earned three Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards.
ALAN TRAMMELL – 2nd Round, No. 26 overall in 1976 Draft
‘Tram’ spent his entire playing career in the Motor City. As spoken of with Lou Whitaker, he and Lou combined to make one of the greatest ‘double play’ combinations in baseball history.
Trammel was the MVP of the 1984 World Series. He batted .450 with six hits, two of which left the ballpark, and six RBI in the 5-game set with the Padres. Alan Trammell would play in six All-Star Games, earn four Gold Glove Awards and three Silver Slugger Awards.
After his playing days, Tram would make some managerial stops along the way. After being a part of the Padres coaching staff from 2000-02, he’d get his first managerial gig with the Tigers from 2003-05. He also served as an interim skipper in later years with both the Diamondbacks and Cubs.
His legacy will forever live on when discussing Detroit Tigers’ history and will go down as one of the biggest Hall of Fame snubs in MLB history.
JUSTIN VERLANDER – 1st Round, No. 2 overall in 2004 Draft
Continuing to build on his already impressive major league career, Justin Verlander has simply dominated in the major leagues.
In 2011, he came only the 10th player in major league history at the time to win both the CY Young and MVP for his respective league in the same season. Clayton Kershaw would later accomplish the same feat in 2014 in the National League. The 2006 AL Rookie of the year made history with the Tigers when he would record his 2,000th strikeout, joining only Micky Lolich as the only Detroit Tigers in franchise history to reach the milestone.
Verlander has made nine All-Star teams thus far in his career and also thrown three no-hitters (one against the Milwaukee Brewers and the other two against the Toronto Blue Jays). At age 39, Verlander still has some gas left in the tank and before his career is all said and done, he’ll go down as one of the greatest right-handers to ever compete at the Major League level.
What do you think of the list, Nation?