Tracking the Top 10 Signings of the Detroit Tigers' 2010 Draft Class
The Detroit Tigers haven't seen a lot of their recent draft picks make their way through the minor leagues system and into the major leagues.
The Tigers, who have assembled most of their current lineup through free agency and trades, have used a lot of their farm system as trade chips to acquire the talent that's now on the team that's pegged to win their third straight American League Central championship.
Although they haven't seen a lot of the fruits of their 2010 draft labor donning the Olde English D, the Tigers' draft of three years ago has proven to be a good one, providing Detroit with more valuable trade bait and a few promising young players.
Here is a look at the current status of the Tigers' top 10 signings from the 2010 draft.
Nick Castellanos: Round 1, No. 44 Overall
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There's no question that Nick Castellanos is the Tigers' most prized possession in their minor league system.
He was the Tigers’ No. 1 draft pick in 2010 and has been brought along very carefully in his development because most people in the organization think he’s going to soon be a special player in Detroit.
The 21-year-old has been brought up in several trade rumors, but the Tigers haven’t shown any interest in dealing the phenom.
Ranked as the No. 21 prospect in the country going into the 2013 season by Baseball America and MLB.com, Castellanos has shown flashes of brilliance at the Triple-A level.
He’s hitting .281 with 12 home runs and 49 RBI in 98 games for Triple-A Toledo this season. After getting off to a slow start, Castellanos began to heat up in June, batting .361 with five homers in 28 games.
He has slowed down in July, batting just .169, but that didn’t stop Baseball America from moving him up to the No. 15 prospect in America, and ESPN.com's Keith Law to move him from No. 38 to No. 22 on his overall list:
Castellanos is now a full-time right fielder, which hurts his potential value relative to what it might have been had he stayed at third base, but he's putting together a solid season as one of the International League's youngest everyday players, working the count more effectively while already setting a career high in home runs.
Chance Ruffin: Round 1, No. 48 Overall
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Every Tigers fan knows who Nick Castellanos is, but most are probably unfamiliar with the Tigers' other first-round pick in 2010, pitcher Chance Ruffin.
Ruffin, who Detroit picked just four spots after Castellanos, was the player to be named later initially in the July 2011 deal with Seattle that sent Charlie Furbush, Casper Wells and minor leaguer Francisco Martinez to the Mariners for Doug Fister and David Pauley.
Ruffin made two appearances for the Tigers in 2011 before being sent to Seattle, where he threw 3.2 innings and had a 4.91 ERA.
He pitched 14 innings over 13 appearances for the Mariners that season with a 1-0 record, 15 strikeouts, nine walks and a 3.86 ERA.
Ruffin began the 2012 season with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate, the Tacoma Rainiers, but struggled badly. In 50 Triple-A appearances out of the bullpen, Ruffin went 0-5 with a 5.99 ERA and hasn’t sniffed the major leagues since.
He was demoted even further this season to Double-A to start the season and has compiled a 4-5 record with a 4.12 ERA in just 17 appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this year.
Drew Smyly: Round 3, No. 68 Overall
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Drew Smyly is the only player from the 2010 draft class who is on the Tigers' current major league roster.
After earning the No. 5 starter role to begin last season, Smyly has been the best reliever in Detroit’s bullpen.
Smyly’s 1.91 ERA is second on the team this season, trailing only Joaquin Benoit. Smyly boasts an unblemished 4-0 record in 56.2 innings over 36 games.
Leading Tigers relievers with 10 holds, Smyly has been in the conversation to regain the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation should Detroit choose to deal Rick Porcello at the trade deadline.
Smyly, 24, has shown time and time again that he has no conscious for the moment and is not afraid of the bright lights of crucial situations. Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones told FoxSportsDetroit.com the same:
He’s as cool a customer as I’ve ever seen. Nothing seems to affect him. He’s very professional and looks the same every day, no matter what the situation is that he comes into. And that doesn’t change, no matter what happened when he was on the mound. He comes into the dugout, and you can’t tell how he’s done. That’s very, very rare—especially for a young guy.
Rob Brantly: Round 3, No. 100 Overall
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Rob Brantly is another one of the Tigers' high 2010 draft picks who was traded away to help the team vie for a World Series championship sooner rather than later.
Last July, Brantly was traded with Bryan Flynn and phenom pitcher Jacob Turner to the Miami Marlins for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante.
Brantly, now 24, made his major league debut for the Marlins less than a month after the trade and performed well, batting .290 with three home runs and eight RBI in 31 games last season.
The catcher was the Opening Day starter this season for the Marlins, but he has been mediocre in 2013, playing just about every other day and hitting .237 with one home run and 18 RBI in 54 games.
Alex Burgos: Round 5, No. 163 Overall
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Alex Burgos is a left-handed pitcher who has gone back and forth between a starter and reliever during his time in the minor leagues.
The 22-year-old began his career as a reliever in the Gulf Coast League and transitioned into a starter for Single-A West Michigan and elevated Single-A Lakeland in 2011 and 2012.
For West Michigan in 2011, Burgos was fantastic amassing a 2.19 ERA with 89 strikeouts compared to only 33 walks in 94.2 innings over 16 starts.
His numbers came back down to earth at Lakeland where he stumbled to an 8-10 record with a 4.90 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 88 walks in 121.1 innings over 25 starts.
His mediocre performance last season not only didn't allow him to advance, but it also got him demoted back to a reliever at Lakeland.
Burgos has done better out of the bullpen this season with a 2.55 ERA, but his record is still only 2-4 and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is less than 2-to-1.
It doesn't look like the Tigers' 2010 fifth-round draft choice will be joining the major league team anytime soon.
Bryan Holaday: Round 6, No. 193 Overall
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Bryan Holaday is another one of the handful of players in the Tigers' 2010 draft class who has made an appearance in the major leagues.
The 25-year-old catcher began his career at elevated Single-A Lakeland and didn't have much offensive success, batting just .220 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 44 games.
He advanced to Double-A Erie in 2011, but didn't perform much better, improving his average to .242 with seven homers and 42 RBI in 92 appearances.
Holaday continued moving up the ladder in 2012, advancing to Triple-A Toledo where he batted just .248 with 10 RBI in 36 games though the midseason, but because of a hamstring injury to Alex Avila and a nagging injury to backup catcher Gerald Laird, Holaday was called up to make his major league debut in June.
Holaday only had 13 plate appearances in six games in his first major league go-around and batted. 250 with two strikeouts and a double.
He finished the season with the Mud Hens and began the 2013 campaign in Triple-A as well.
Because of another Avila injury this past June, Holaday got the call to Detroit again and made 15 plate appearances in four games with the Tigers, batting .231.
When Avila returned from the disabled list, Holaday was sent back down again and has remained with Toledo where he is having his most consistent season so far, batting .282 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 60 games.
Corey Jones: Round 7, No. 223 Overall
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Corey Jones had been on a roller coaster so far in the early part of his professional career.
He spent most of his first professional season with Single-A West Michigan where he took the league by storm, batting .360 with 30 RBI in 48 games.
In 2011, his numbers were more modest with elevated Single-A Lakeland, where he averaged .259 with six long balls and 47 RBI in 122 games.
The second baseman was promoted to Double-A Erie for most of last season and his numbers declined again, with a .243 batting average and significantly lower power numbers at three homers and 21 RBI in 76 games.
Jones was promoted to Triple-A Toledo to start this season but after hitting just .190 in his first seven games there, he was sent back to Double-A where only managed a .196 average with five RBI in 19 games.
After his sorry performance at the upper levels, the 25-year-old finds himself back down in Lakeland, where he still can't seem to figure things out, hitting .200 with one home run and nine RBI in 21 games.
Patrick Leyland: Round 8, No. 253 Overall
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Following in the footsteps of his famous dad, Patrick Leyland is a talented catcher who has been signed by the Tigers.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland was also signed by Detroit back in 1963 and spent seven seasons as a minor leaguer in the organization.
While the younger Leyland is trying to make his own mark, he hasn't been on the field long enough to show steady improvement.
The most he has played is 68 games in a single season, coming with Single-A West Michigan in 2012. His time with the White Caps was his most productive, as he batted .237 with two home runs and 24 RBI that season.
Leyland has spent most of this season with lower Single-A Connecticut in the New York-Pennsylvania League, where he's hitting .227 with one home run and nine RBI in 28 games.
One of the reasons for Leyland's mediocrity is that he's in the process of transitioning from catcher to first base. He has played 25 games at first with his current team, and boasts a .969 fielding percentage.
He has also performed well at first base, but when a player changes something he has been doing his whole life, it can affect other aspects of his game.
Tony Plagman: Round 9, No. 283 Overall
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Drafted out of Georgia Tech, Tony Plagman was originally selected by the New York Yankees in the 46th round of the 2009 amateur draft.
Plagman instead returned to school and was drafted much higher by the Tigers in 2010 in the ninth round.
After a modest rookie year at Single-A West Michigan, Plagman has shown flashes of brilliance and a lot of power, boasting 18 home runs and 97 RBI in 137 games for elevated Single-A Lakeland in 2011, and 13 homers and 56 RBI in 112 for Double-A Erie.
His average, though, has dropped significantly with each higher level, going from .272 in 2010 to .257 in 2011 and .229 last season.
Plagman began his career at first base, but spent most of the season last year playing at either of the corner outfield positions.
The 25-year-old hasn't seen the field yet this season after suffering a knee injury that has kept him sidelined.
Cole Nelson: Round 10, No. 313 Overall
Cole Nelson, a 25-year-old left-handed hurler from Auburn, rounds out the Tigers' top-10 signings of 2010.
After not seeing much action in 2010, Nelson split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen in elevated Single-A, going 6-12 in 17 starts and 31 appearances while amassing a 4.67 ERA with 92 strikeouts and 56 walks.
Originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009, Nelson has spent most of his professional career at the elevated Single-A level, where he's been mediocre at best with a 5.07 ERA and an 11-20 record in 33 starts and 56 appearances.