The Detroit Tigers have drafted 51 players in the first round of the MLB Rule 4 draft. Although none of those 51 players have been elected to the Hall of Fame as of yet, there have been some very successful picks including multiple All-Stars. These are the five best first-round picks in franchise history.
Taken No. 2 overall in the 1990 draft, Tony Clark began his MLB career in Detroit and had his best seasons in a Tigers uniform. He finished his 15-year career with a .262 batting average, 251 HRs, 824 RBI and one All-Star selection in 2001, his final year with the Tigers.
His three best seasons came in '97, '98 and '99, a stretch during which he averaged 32 HRs and 106 RBI. He also has perhaps the most fitting nickname in Tigers history, "Tony the Tiger."
Drafted 30th overall in the 1987 draft out of Tate High School in Pensacola, Florida, he spent his first eight seasons with the Tigers before ending up with the Cleveland Indians. He finished his career with five All-Star selections (four in Detroit), one Silver Slugger award in 1992 and one Golden Glove award in 2000. He also amassed 1,022 RBI and 223 HRs while sporting a .274 career average.
Kirk Gibson was drafted 12th overall in the 1978 draft and was famous for coming through with clutch home runs. While his most famous HR came as a Dodger in the 1988 World Series, he had an equally clutch HR as a member of the 1984 World Series champion Tigers. Gibson hit a three-run shot in the eighth inning of Game 5 of the World Series against future Hall of Famer Goose Gossage to seal the championship for Detroit.
He finished his career with a .268 average, 255 HRs, 870 RBI, the '84 ALCS MVP, two World Series titles and the '88 NL MVP as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Gibson was also a part of the Tigers broadcasting team for five seasons before moving back to the dugout as the team's bench coach and hitting coach under then-manager Alan Trammell.
Justin Verlander may one day go down as the greatest Tigers draft pick of all time, but as of today he'll have to settle for second place.
In his young career Verlander has put up amazing numbers. He has already thrown two no-hitters, eclipsed 1,000 strikeouts and earned the 2006 Rookie of the Year award and three All-Star nods to date. He is on pace to reach 100 wins shortly after the All-Star break this season and is having a Cy Young-caliber year. Verlander is perhaps the most dominant pitcher in the league and has Hall of Fame potential.
When the Tigers drafted Lance Parrish 16th overall in 1974, they drafted him as a third baseman. He would eventually end up as one of the greatest catchers in MLB history. He was an integral part of the 1984 World Series championship team. He caught Jack Morris' no-hitter that season along with hitting 33 HRs and driving in 98 RBI on his way to winning one of his six Silver Slugger awards and one of his three Gold Glove awards.
He is an eight-time All-Star (six with the Tigers) and ranks fifth in major league history in home runs as a catcher with 299, 10th among catchers in total bases with 3,113 and 11th in runs batted in with 1,070.