By Ashley Dunkak

CBS DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers strayed from their tendency to use their first-round pick on a hurler, but they still made picking up a pitcher a priority, grabbing University of Alabama right-hander Spencer Turnbull with the 63rd overall pick.

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Tigers vice president of amateur scouting David Chadd provided a rundown on Turnbull on a teleconference Friday. Chadd said that while Turnbull might finish out this season in the bullpen because he has already pitched a significant number of innings this year, the organization sees Turnbull primarily as a starter rather than a reliever.

“He’s a similar type to, if you want to do comparisons, to a Tommy Hunter, who also pitched at University of Alabama,” Chadd said. “He’s a strong-bodied right-handed pitcher, power arm, anywhere from 92 to 97, throws strikes and pitches off his fastball, and he’s a tough guy to hit, as I think the statistics will show. I think his batting average against was like .192 in college baseball, which is unheard of. But again, really like the makeup of the player, I think he’s a tough kid, and we think he’s going to fit right into the organization just fine. As far as what our plans are, we have to sit down to talk about it.

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“Whether it’s as a starter or reliever, at this point – like I said, we’ve haven’t sat down and discussed it – we’re just happy to have Spencer Turnbull because of what he brings as far as his power potential,” Chadd concluded.

Chadd said the Tigers have had an eye on Turnbull all spring. He made steady improvement throughout his career at Alabama, with his ERA dropping from 5.60 his freshman year to 3.70 his sophomore year to 2.22 this year.

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“We’ve definitely been following him all spring,” Chadd said. “He came in not throwing as hard as obviously he is now, but he’s also gained strength and size and with that the power’s developed. I think it’s both – I think delivery, the arm action, the strength to his frame – that’s added to the velocity.”