Artie Lewicki lost his 2013 season to Tommy John surgery, but bounced back with a vengeance for the University of Virginia. The Tigers, who had shown a willingness to consider pitchers with surgically repaired elbows with higher-round picks, were willing to take a chance with him in the eighth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft after they happened to watch him in a midweek game late in the season.
The Cavaliers had no shortage of Draft prospects this spring. Their closer, Nick Howard, was frequently scouted by Tigers officials down the stretch. Lewicki was further down the prospect list, but his performance put him on Detroit's radar.
"He definitely opened our eyes late," Chadd said. "He has coming off an oblique [injury] and hadn't pitched much. And we just happened to catch him in a midweek start as he was coming off the oblique late in the year.
"He was 92-95 [mph] for seven [innings], with a plus breaking ball, very easy, fluid delivery on the mound. It was a surprise, really, for us to see a pitcher of that caliber late."
That's as hard or harder than Lewicki threw pre-surgery, and it's arguably more impressive than the results, including a 6-1 record, 1.72 ERA and a .163 batting average allowed, holding opponents to 30 hits over 52 1/3 innings with 10 walks and 46 strikeouts.
His 6-foot-3 frame suggests he should be able to maintain his velocity once he starts out in the pro ranks. The Tigers see him as a starter in their system.
"I was always determined during surgery," Lewicki told the Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Va., last month. "It's a long road. It's easy to get down on yourself, but it's good to be in an atmosphere like this and have your players and coaches around, and they can just keep you motivated to get back. Two years ago, I was really determined to get back to where I am now. I'm glad everything's working out."
After opening the season as a midweek starter, Lewicki serves as a second starter on a Virginia team that will host Maryland this weekend in the NCAA Super Regionals.
The Draft concludes on Saturday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 1 p.m. ET.