DETROIT -- Rice University has generated a fair amount of high-end pitching talent in the Draft over the years. While Austin Kubitza doesn't appear to be a Jeff Niemann or Philip Humber type, he's shown an ability to match up against the best pitchers in the college game, serving typically as Rice's Friday starter.
The Tigers made the 6-foot-5, 220-pound right-hander their fourth-round pick (126th overall) Friday. Kubitza struck out 125 batters in 100 innings in 16 starts. He's done so basically using two pitches, a fastball that sits in the upper 80s and can touch 90 mph with a ton of sink and a nasty slider that he has confidence in to throw in any count.
Kubitza does have a changeup, but never uses it. That lack of a third pitch, along with some command issues, has most thinking he's best-suited in a bullpen role in the future.
"We certainly think of him as a starter," Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "I think he does have a feel for a changeup, and again, he's another guy in this year's Draft that had unbelievable numbers, especially strikeout numbers."
He was drafted in the seventh round out of high school by the Pirates in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, but chose not to sign. He's set to face North Carolina State in the Super Regional Round of the NCAA Tournament this weekend.
Starting with Day 2 pick, Tigers all about righties
DETROIT -- The Tigers spent Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft nearly the same way they spent Day 1 -- selecting right-handed collegiate pitchers. University of Louisville right-hander Jeffrey Thompson headlines a group of six pitchers, along with two outfielders, chosen on Friday.
The Tigers made Thompson, the Big East Pitcher of the Year, their third-round selection (94th overall). He brings an imposing presence to the mound at 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds. He led the conference in wins (10) and strikeouts (100) in 96 1/3 innings, and he also had a 28-inning scoreless streak in March. Opposing hitters hit only .173 against him this year.
"[He's a] very athletic kid at 6-foot-7," Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd said. "The numbers he put up this year -- and they have a good club [at] Louisville -- but the numbers he put up were phenomenal."
Thompson will pitch against the Tigers' seventh-round pick, and the first position player they selected, center fielder Connor Harrell, in his start against No. 2 national-seeded Vanderbilt in the NCAA Super Regional Sunday. Detroit took Harrell in the 31st round last year, before he improved his numbers this spring, leading the Commodores with 12 home runs. He joins Detroit's ninth-round pick, right-handed reliever Will LaMarche from Louisiana State, out of the Southeastern Conference on Day 2 of the Draft. Two of the team's first three picks from Day 1 were also from the SEC.
"It just seems like when you get to see them against the best competition, you get to see the best out of them and see what they are all about," director of amateur scouting Scott Pleis said. "It's easy to take them out of there."
The Tigers selected three more right-handed collegiate pitchers in the following rounds after Thompson -- Austin Kubitza from Rice University, Buck Farmer from Georgia Tech and Calvin Drummond, who was ineligible to play at two schools this spring. Both Kubitza and Farmer have more strikeouts than innings pitched this season.
"When you're evaluating college pitchers," Chadd said, "one thing that jumps out at you is their ability to strike out college hitters."
The Tigers also added Zach Reininger, a right-handed pitcher from Hill Junior College from Texas, and Kasey Coffman, a junior center fielder from Arizona State.
Although nine of the 11 picks made by the Tigers ended up being collegiate pitchers, Chadd said they are looking to draft the best available player, but the depth of hitters in Detroit's farm system gives him flexibility.
"We feel good about what we have at the lower levels and what we have coming," Chadd said. "I think it's fair to say we were looking for some upper-level pitching depth we'd like to get in the system and get it going."
Day 3 of the Draft continues with Rounds 11-40 streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. ET.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
In the Pipeline
The Tigers' Day 2 effort is a continuation of their longtime philosophy to grab power pitchers. Recently, drafting a hard-throwing collegiate pitcher has resulted in reliever Drew Smyly. MLB.com only ranks three starting pitchers in the Tigers' farm system out of their top 20 prospects -- Casey Crosby, Jake Thompson and Drew VerHagen. Nearly all of the pitchers selected in the first two days of the Draft will get an opportunity to start in the Minors.
Farmer's smart moves benefit Tigers' Draft
DETROIT -- Rather than sign with the Brewers, who took Buck Farmer in the 15th round of the 2012 Draft, the 22-year-old returned to Georgia Tech for his senior season, and it's looking like it may have been a good move by the right-hander. The Tigers selected Farmer in the fifth round (156th overall) of the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
The three-time All-ACC pitcher struck out 122 hitters in 113 1/3 innings. He also went 9-5 with a 2.78 ERA in 17 starts. Farmer earned a 5-1 record, mostly out of the bullpen during his freshman year before improving to an 11-3 mark in his first full season as a collegiate starting pitcher.
A strong, durable workhorse type, Farmer will mix four Major League average or better pitches. His fastball may top out at around 91 mph, but it seems faster thanks to an above-average changeup that's a legitimate weapon. Add in a sharp slider and a curve that shows sign of being a usable second breaking ball and you have the makings of a solid middle-of-the-rotation-type starter.
Farmer was also drafted in the 46th round in the 2009 Draft by his hometown Braves, but he elected to play for the Yellow Jackets.
Tigers stay with pitching in sixth round
DETROIT -- Calvin Drummond was the sixth-round selection at 186th overall by the Tigers on Friday, despite not taking the mound this season.
Drummond hasn't pitched in a game this year, but scouts have watched his regular bullpen sessions. His stuff hasn't suffered, and his fastball sits in the mid-90s. He mixes it with a good slider, as well as a curveball and changeup. Drummond has the stuff to be a starter, but he's already 23 and could be fast-tracked as a reliever.
Drummond has had a transient college career and attended four different schools in five years, though he only pitched at two of them. Most recently, he was declared ineligible at San Diego and transferred to Arizona Christian this year, only to find himself ineligible there as well.
"He threw hard for us, which is nice to see, I know it's a bullpen [session]," director of amateur scouting Scott Pleis said. "But he threw hard for us, he's got four pitches -- a curveball and a slider that we thought were above-average pitches and a feel for a changeup. So he had everything we needed to see. He's got size, he's got arm strength; we like the way he does it."
He's been drafted three times in the past -- never higher than the 34th round -- including last year by Oakland, which took him in the 38th round. He held opposing hitters to a .291 batting average with 80 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings in 15 starts at the University of San Diego in 2012.
Tigers get their man in Harrell second time around
DETROIT -- The Tigers selected Vanderbilt's Connor Harrell in the 31st round of last year's Draft. After deciding not to sign, he responded by hitting .313 with a team-leading 12 home runs and 66 RBIs this spring, and Detroit called his name again -- this time making him its seventh-round choice (216th overall).
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he is physical and has above-average speed. Harrell has good power, but it comes with a lot of swings and misses. Harrell has a good arm and enough range to continue manning center field as a professional.
Despite leading Vanderbilt with 61 strikeouts, the second-team All-SEC selection sports a .410 on-base percentage and a .535 slugging percentage.
Detroit took Harrell's teammate and left-handed pitcher, Kevin Ziomek, in the second round of this year's First-Year Player Draft and he's the sixth Commodore in the past three years to be drafted by the Tigers. He will face Tigers' third-round selection, right-hander Jeffrey Thompson, in this weekend's NCAA Super Regional.
Reininger joins Tigers' pitching-rich Draft
DETROIT -- Zach Reininger will have a few options to ponder over for the next month. The Tigers selected the 6-foot-3, 170-pound right-handed pitcher in the eighth round (246th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft Friday. He's also a part of Texas Tech's recruiting class for the Fall 2013 semester.
Reininger played two seasons at Hill Junior College in Hillsboro, Texas, after playing at Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas. His fastball sits in the upper 80s. He struck out 85 batters compared to eight walks in 106 1/3 innings this spring. He finished with a 10-5 mark and a 1.95 ERA in 16 appearances and 13 starts.
The 20-year-old only walked four batters in 47 innings pitched during the 2012 season.
LaMarche last pitcher Tigers select on Day 2
DETROIT -- As Louisana State University right-handed reliever Will LaMarche readies to face Oklahoma in this weekend's NCAA Super Regional, he already received good news when the Tigers made him their ninth-round selection (276th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft on Friday.
LaMarche's fastball sits in the mid-90s and topped out at 97 mph last summer. He was selected in the 18th round in last year's Draft by the Twins, after playing at Chabot Community College in Hayward, Calif. First, he spent a redshirt season as a freshman at Long Beach State and transferred after missing his sophomore season due to Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Opposing hitters are hitting .221 against the 21-year-old pitcher in 23 relief appearances. He's also struck out 24 hitters in 24 2/3 innings.
Coffmann the second of two outfielders selected
DETROIT -- After the Tigers selected eight pitchers with their first nine picks, they wrapped up Day 2 of the First-Year Player Draft with 6-foot-3 center fielder Kasey Coffman on Friday. The junior showed a mix of power and speed at Arizona State this season with eight home runs and a team-high nine stolen bases.
The left-handed hitter completed his season with a team-best .430 on-base percentage, while finishing second on the squad with a .332 batting average and a .534 slugging percentage.
Coffman hit .337 with six home runs and 44 RBIs last summer in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with the Newport Gulls in 42 games.