DETROIT — The Tigers have the 23rd pick in Thursday night’s draft, but don’t expect Brad Ausmus to be locked into the team’s war room after the game.
"I’ll hear the name of the guy we pick on TV or something, but I don’t know anything about these guys," he said. "I don’t have anything to do with the draft."
After his playing career ended in 2010 and he moved into the San Diego Padres front office, there was a brief experiment with using Ausmus as a scout, but it didn’t last long.
"They told me that they wanted me to look at a high-school catcher about an hour north of San Diego, so I drove up there to watch him," he said. "When I came back, they asked me what I thought about him, and I said I had no idea. He wasn’t ready for the big leagues, but I didn’t have any way of projecting him to the major-league level."
Ausmus said the hardest part was adjusting his expectations after a long major-league career.
"I’d spent 18 years in the big leagues, so that was my barometer," he said. "So now I’m watching high-school kids and I’m thinking, ‘These guys are terrible.’
"I could see what they were doing wrong, but I didn’t have enough scouting knowledge to say that this guy was a prospect and that guy didn’t have a chance."
To his great relief, the Padres ignored Ausmus and drafted the catcher in question, Austin Hedges, in the second round of the 2011 draft. Hedges is now in Double-A in San Diego’s system and is ranked as one of the top-25 prospects in baseball by both Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com.
"I worked with him in San Diego," Ausmus said with a laugh. "It turns out he was pretty good after all."
For that reason, Ausmus will be letting the experts run the draft room on Thursday evening. He’ll stick to managing.