The first time the Tigers drafted Ben Verlander, in the 46th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, it seemed like a courtesy to his brother, Justin. Now it probably has more to do with his skills, as Detroit selected the 6-foot-4 right fielder with its 14th-round selection (426th overall) on Saturday afternoon.
"Obviously, it's not just a favor to draft him, you don't do that in the 14th round," Justin said. "They see promise in him, and I've talked to [general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] about him a little bit, and he said the guys like him, so it wasn't just one of those scenarios where you're taking him to do the Verlander family a favor. He earned this all on his own, and I'm really happy for him."
A former two-way player who stopped pitching to focus on hitting, Verlander has dominated at the plate for Old Dominion University, with team highs in slugging (.638), on-base percentage (.429) and steals (13).
[I'm] extremely proud," Justin said. "And he really just did it this year. It's all kind of a whirlwind, and I'm sure it was a whirlwind for him. If it was anybody else, it's not really that big of a deal, going from a pitcher to a two-way guy to just a hitter and having a fantastic year. But because he's my brother and he quit pitching, it became a story."
Ben has been to Detroit in the past, not only to watch his brother pitch but to work with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon.
"Coach McClendon has really helped me with my swing a lot," the younger Verlander said earlier this season. "I came up here last summer and took it into this season. Just coming back and being able to work with him in the cages and getting out on the field with him is great."
Though Ben doesn't have the same acclaim out of college as Justin, who was the No. 2 pick in the 2004 Draft, the older still hopes the younger can reach his goal of reaching the Major Leagues.
"Nine years separate us, so we never even came close to playing with each other before, but what an experience that would be," Justin said. "Hopefully, that's the case. I hope he's able to make it."
Bobby Nightengale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.