MLB Draft: Detroit Tigers Squeeze Value Out of First Round Picks

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May 21, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann (34) hits a walk off home run in the eleventh inning against the Houston Astros at Comerica Park. Detroit won 6-5 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

2011 MLB Draft

The Detroit Tigers did not have a first round pick in 2011. They had to give up the pick to the Boston Red Sox as compensation for signing free agent catcher/first baseman/designated hitter Victor Martinez. This was the first of two consecutive seasons without a first round pick.

The Tigers’ first pick of 2011 came in the second round at number 76 overall when they took catcher James McCann out of Arkansas.

McCann got better each year as he climbed the ladder in the Tigers’ system, particularly the last two years when he hit for a 102 wRC+ in AA in 2013 and a 112 wRC+ in AAA in 2014. He entered the 2015 season as the Tigers’ backup catcher (right-handed side of a platoon, really), but has proven to be more than that as he’s more than adequately held down the catcher position with Alex Avila on the disabled list.

McCann, who turns 25 this month, has hit for a 100 wRC+ through his first 124 plate appearances while providing solid defense behind the plate. Many think the organization will allow Alex Avila to walk when he hits free agency at the end of the season, and McCann’s apparent readiness to take over the job full-time is the reason why.

Next: 2010 MLB Draft: Nick Castellanos and Chance Ruffin