Cubs take outfielder Colvin with first pick
Clemson junior considered one of ACC's best this season
HOUSTON -- No one was more surprised to be drafted 13th than Tyler Colvin.
The Chicago Cubs selected the junior outfielder out of Clemson University with the 13th pick in the first round of Tuesday's First-Year Amateur Player Draft.
"I was just looking to have a good season and hope somebody would pick me up," Colvin said. "Being 13th for the Cubs is great. It's overwhelming for me."
Colvin, 20, batted .359 with 12 home runs, 22 doubles, five triples and 65 RBIs in 64 games for Clemson this season with 23 stolen bases in 27 attempts. He has a .315 career average for the Tigers with 54 doubles, seven triples, 19 home runs and 137 RBIs. Despite the good numbers, he was ranked 170th among position players by Baseball America.
"I really believe in this guy's ability," Cubs scouting director Tim Wilken said Tuesday from Mesa, Ariz. "I think you can see it in the numbers and the gradual increases, and I think there's more to come from this player."
The left-handed hitter was considered one of the better all-around players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year and helped Clemson win its first ACC tournament title. He was named MVP of the tournament, going 10-for-24 in five games. The Tigers had played in the championship game five times in the last 11 years but finished runner-up each time.
"Tyler was one of our most improved players in the fall, and he's gotten a lot stronger," Clemson coach Jack Leggett said before the season. "He has a chance to hit for more power this year, but his game is really as a slash hitter and hitting the ball into gaps along with running aggressively on the bases. He's an excellent defensive player and has a good feel for the bunt game. He has the total package."
Colvin batted over .700 to earn ACC Baseball Player of the Week honors in May. He was a combined 11-for-13 in a three-game series against Wake Forest, going 5-for-7 with a double, two home runs and eight RBIs in a 26-1 win on May 18, and following that with a 4-for-4 game with another home run and four RBIs in Clemson's 6-0 win the next day.
Wilken watched the 6-foot-3, 190-pound outfielder, who grew up in North Augusta, S.C., in the second game. Colvin didn't grade as high as some of the players available, but Wilken saw plenty of upside.
"It was a combination of things," Wilken said. "I think Tyler is probably one of those guys who is late maturing. He's a slender guy, physically, and his frame still has some projection to it. He's a very good baseball player and excellent outfielder in left field. We may put him in center field. He's an average runner and very good base runner and he leads the team in steals."
Colvin was a first baseman but converted to outfield when he arrived at Clemson.
"I would love to play center field," Colvin said. "Here at Clemson, I'm pretty comfortable in left. I get an itch to go in center field. I think it would be a good opportunity to try center field out. I think I could do it."
Wilken projected Colvin as a player who will hit for average, not power.
"You can see there's a fair amount of extra-base hits, and that equates to power," Wilken said. "He had close to 40-plus extra-base hits for the year. If you've got a guy who can swing a bat with extra-base-hit ability, that's very useful in the big leagues."
"I haven't hit many home runs," Colvin said. "I like to get on base and steal bases. I'd say gap hitter would be my job. I'm not looking to hit too many home runs."
He does have an interesting background. Colvin's uncle, Jerry, was a pro bowler, and when Tyler bowled regularly, he had a 200 average. He hasn't picked up a bowling ball in nearly two years, concentrating on baseball instead.
"My uncle is a pro, and my whole family is into it," Tyler said.
He's ready to focus on baseball now, looking forward to the NCAA Super Regionals. Clemson (50-14) will face Oral Roberts (41-14) on Friday in the NCAA Super Regional.
The Cubs did not have another selection until the fifth round when they tabbed Notre Dame pitcher Jeff Samardzija, who was a standout wide receiver for the Irish. The Cubs lost the second-, third- and fourth-round picks when they signed free agents Bob Howry, Scott Eyre and Jacque Jones. Those picks are compensation for the players' 2005 teams.
"I think we have a chance to be a much better club for having Mr. Jones, Mr. Eyre and Mr. Howry," Wilken said. "Any time you can help yourself that way, we'll take it. Hopefully, we'll get a little more creative from [round] five on and find some big leaguers. We'll try to make this a successful draft despite the thinness of it."
The Cubs' 2005 top pick, left-hander Mark Pawelek, spent the majority of last season with the Mesa Rookie League team and was 0-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He made one start at Boise, pitching only three innings. The teenager -- Pawelek doesn't turn 20 until Aug. 18 -- was kept in Mesa, Ariz., with the Rookie League team this spring and was expected to be assigned to Boise.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.