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Tigers select Porcello, a top prep pitcher from N.J.

DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers selected high school pitching star Rick Porcello with the 27th pick of the first round of the 2007 amateur-player draft yesterday.

The 6-foot-5, 195-pound righthander from Seton Hall Prep in West Orange, N.J. was considered one of the top two or three players in the draft, but many teams passed on him because of the expected salary demands of he and agent Scott Boras.

Porcello has been called the best high school pitching prospect since Josh Beckett, another Boras client who was drafted by the Florida Marlins in 1999 when they were being run by current Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski.

Beckett signed for $7 million, and Boras has reportedly said that he expects a similar contract for Porcello, including an adjustment for inflation.

Television analyst Keith Law, the director of scouting for Scouts Inc., said that getting Porcello at the 27th was like "Christmas for the Tigers." As a senior, Porcello compiled an 8-0 record and 0.50 ERA. He struck out 96 batters and walked 11 in 56 innings pitched.

"We look forward to adding a pitcher of Porcello's caliber and potential to our system," David Chadd, the Tigers' vice president of amateur scouting, said in a release.

Picking late in the first round was unusual for the Tigers, who have selected in the top 10 in each of the last eight drafts. The 27th pick was their latest choice since 1991, when they lost their first-round pick after signing free agents Tony Phillips and Mickey Tettleton.

After a barren spell in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Tigers have had more success in recent seasons. The first pick in 2004, Justin Verlander, helped them to the World Series last year, and last year's top selection, Andrew Miller, will be starting for the Tigers this Sunday against the Mets.

In between, they took college star Cameron Maybin, who has looked impressive in the low minors and is seen as their centerfielder of the future.

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