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Tigers quiet after signing picks early

Tigers quiet after signing picks early

DETROIT -- Some scouting directors have to spend the days leading up to Aug. 15 working the phones and finalizing contracts. Instead, David Chadd has been able to enjoy a summer of scouting. That's what happens when so many Draft selections sign early.

Ten players taken in the first round of June's First-Year Player Draft were unsigned heading into Friday's signing deadline, but the Tigers' top pick wasn't one of them. Ryan Perry had signed last month. Others behind him, such as Cody Satterwhite, Scott Green, Brett Jacobson and Alex Avila, agreed to terms quickly. Still more fell in line from there.

Not only were the Tigers' top selections all in the farm system well ahead of the signing deadline, but 19 of Detroit's first 20 are under contract. As the seconds ticked towards Friday's midnight ET deadline, the Tigers had few if any negotiations to make.

It's a great feeling for Chadd, even if it's a little awkward.

"It is strange," Chadd said Thursday by phone. "First time ever for me."

He's had so much scouting time on his hands that he's been able to settle in. Instead of trying to get his Draft picks into the organization, he has had a chance to watch many of them play. He saw Perry hit 99 mph on the radar gun during his second outing for Class A Lakeland on Aug. 1, and he saw Green and Jacobson pitch in the bullpen for Class A West Michigan. He has watched every Tigers farm team play from rookie ball on up except for short-season Class A Oneonta.

Not only does it mean so many picks have signed, but they're making meaningful contributions from the outset. Instead of signing late enough that they have to wait until next year to play in games, many of the Tigers draftees have taken advantage of what Chadd considers an important first year of pro ball.

"I just really believe that this first year is a big year for development," Chadd said. "We're just fortunate that these guys had the same feeling."

He insists that was not by design, and Detroit's track record backs up that notion. Signability and salary have not been overriding considerations in their picks in recent years, as their willingness to sign players above slot in recent years has shown. Chadd said they went into this year's Draft looking again to take who they considered the best player available.

"We felt like in the rounds we were taking, we were taking the best guy," Chadd signed. "It just so happened the signability fell in place. It certainly does feel a little bit strange, but it's a good feeling."

That said, Chadd credited his area scouts for both finding talent and being able to get deals done.

"These kids wanted to get going, get out," Chadd said. "They really put a lot of emphasis on this first year of development."

Perry, in particular, has seemingly capitalized on the jump start into pro ball. Instead of waiting for negotiations, the former University of Arizona reliever is now closing at Class A Lakeland, where he ended Friday with three saves in six appearances and eight strikeouts over 7 1/3 innings, including a scoreless inning with two strikeouts Friday night.

While other teams that scouted Perry reported his fastball topping out around 99 mph during the NCAA regionals, the Tigers had him slower than that. Now that he's in the system, Chadd has been able to see the 99-mph heater for themselves.

The one unsigned player among Detroit's top 20 picks heading into Friday was 18th-rounder Scott Weismann, a high school right-hander in Massachusetts. He's expected to honor his college commitment and join the program at Clemson.

Meanwhile, Chadd is getting a head start on next year's Draft. With all the extra time, he was able to scout the East Coast Showcase tournament in Lakeland for high school players for the first time in several years. This year's Draft is pretty much behind him.

"It certainly frees your schedule up more," he said.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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