Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 6/7/13
By STEVE KORNACKI FOXSPORTSDETROIT.COM DETROIT First-round pick Jonathan Crawfords statistics at the University of Florida dont knock your eyes out, but the Detroit Tigers are high on his stuff and what hes done against top college and international competition. He was 3-6 with a 3.84 ERA this season for the Gators, who were eliminated last week from the NCAA tournament. David Chadd, Detroits vice president in charge of amateur scouting, referred to Crawford as a power right-hander who has a fastball that tops out at 97-98 mph with a slider that comes in at 87-88 mph. Those are basically the same velocities Tigers 2011 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander has been reaching with those pitches this season. The next step for Crawford will be learning the art of pitching. MLB.coms scouting report on Crawford noted: Everything he throws is hard, and the ability to change speeds more effectively will be a necessary skill to refine going forward. There will always be an adjustment, Chadd added. Chadd was influenced by what Crawford, drafted No. 20 overall, did last summer for Team USA and his accomplishments in the college postseason. He was 3-0 with a 2.10 ERA in international competition, including two wins over a powerhouse Cuban team that is considered the equivalent of a Double-A minor league team. And his NCAA tourney earned run average of 2.05 includes a 2012 no-hitter against Bethune-Cookman. What he did for Team USA and in his sophomore (6-2, 313 ERA) and junior years is what attracted us to Jonathan Crawford, Chadd said Friday morning on a conference call with reporters. And he was very successful against Cuba. Crawford, who lists Verlander as his favorite major league pitcher along with Roy Oswalt, said Verlanders drive is what appeals to him. Im looking forward to working with him, said Crawford, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, and picking his brain a bit. However, theres still the matter of signing with the Tigers. Crawford and Detroits next two picks are all are juniors with one year of college eligibility remaining. Detroit took University of Texas right-hander Corey Knebel (3-4, 3.38 ERA, 9 saves) in the Competitive Balance Round A after the first round, and Vanderbilt left-hander Kevin Ziomek (11-2, 1.92 ERA) in the second round. College players with eligibility remaining have until 5 p.m. on July 12 to sign with major league organizations. Chadd said each of those three pitchers likely would start with the Class A Connecticut Tigers of the New York-Penn League when signed. Detroit continued its trend of drafting pitchers in the first round. Center fielder Cameron Maybin (2005) and infielder-outfielder Nick Castellanos (2010) are the only position players taken in the first round since 2003. DRAFT PICK SUSPENSIONS: Knebel was suspended in April for a violation of team rules and again in May for what the Austin American-Statesman reported as supplying a urine sample for a Longhorns teammate. We dont believe we got a problem child, Chadd said. We got an individual who might have made some bad decisions in the past. Chadd noted doing due diligence in investigating the suspensions, adding, Were very comfortable with all the answers we were given. Knebel had 37 career saves, coming four short of Huston Streets school record. But Chadd said the 6-4, 205-pounder with two plus power pitches (fastball and curve) will be a starter in the minors. SMYLY COMPARISON: Chad likened Ziomek to current Tigers southpaw reliever and starter in waiting Drew Smyly. There is a similarity to Smyly, said Chadd, noting that Ziomek has two different breaking balls and a fastball in the 90-92 mph range. Theres a misnomer we just take guys who throw hard, Chadd added. Ziomek, who is from Massachusetts, comes from the highly-successful Vandy program that produced 2012 Cy Young Award winner and lefty David Price.
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