Justin Verlander was 7-6 with a 3.49 ERA at Old Dominion that year, and walked about five batters per nine innings. The Tigers believed that he had the best stuff in the draft, but had struggled to repeat his delivery at ODU. Other pitchers such as Jered Weaver, Philip Humber, and Jeff Niemann were rated higher by some scouting services. But Smith liked Verlander's stuff too much.
In an email last week, Smith referenced a "lack of consensus'' within the Tigers' scouting staff about Verlander. But he was convinced that the powerful right-hander would rise above Weaver and Humber, who probably were safer picks, so he stuck to his guns.
"If the main focus had been on current performance, his value certainly would have slipped and moved him down the board,'' said Smith, now the Pirates' scouting director. "… We believed there was more in there yet to be harnessed.''
It goes without saying that the writeup on Verlander leading into the draft reminds us of someone, and probably goes a long way toward explaining that Gerrit Cole is being seen as the Pirates' pick at 1.1 tomorrow.