Five Detroit Tigers That Could Be Targeted in Rule 5 Draft

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Last Saturday I gave an overview of the Tigers farmhands that are eligible for this year’s rule 5 draft but are unlikely to be selected. Today, thanks to the help of SPANdemonium, I will take a look at five names that are more likely to be selected.

Fu-Te Ni is the most familiar name that Tigers fans will find on the list of eligible players. His promising 2009 season gave way to a disappointing 2010 season in which his hit and walk totals rose significantly. Ni was so ineffective that he was limited to 23 big league innings in which he gave up 27 hits and 19 walks. Lefties always seem to be in need so someone might be willing to take a flier, especially a team content to ride out a year in rebuild mode.

Matt Hoffman started the year with Lakeland but spent most of the season with Erie except for a one week stint with Toledo. He pitched exclusively as a reliever after mostly starting games in previous seasons. His statistical progression is quite interesting as it suggests a stair-step shape in his developmental trajectory. He initially struggled in his promotion from short season A ball to the West Michigan Whitecaps in 2008 then came back to have a great year for the ‘Caps in 2009. He got a taste of Lakeland in 2009 and struggled again only to come back and have a great start with Lakeland in 2010. His numbers once again suffered after his 2010 promotion. It seems like something eventually clicks with Hoffman. As long as a team out there thinks that could continue then he might hear his name called.

Jon Kibler is another pitcher that has shown promise in the lower levels of the minor leagues and is trying to put it all together as he makes his way up the ranks. Unlike Hoffman, Kibler is still working as a starting pitcher. His walk totals are a little high and his strikeout rate is a little low but he will make a guy whiff more than he gives him a free pass to first base and Baseball America recognized Kibler as having the best control in the Tigers organization following the 2008 season. His best season came in 2008 as a member of the West Michigan Whitecaps in which he went 14-5 with a 1.75 ERA and a .875 WHIP. It is that kind of potential that could make him attractive during the minor league portion of this year’s rule 5 draft.

Jay Voss came to the Tigers in the deal that sent Nate Robertson to the Florida Marlins. Originally and eighth round pick, he struggled as starting pitcher in his first two minor league seasons in the Marlins organization and he has been a reliever ever since. He then put together a solid 2009 campaign for the Marlins’ high A and AA clubs. Voss started and ended the year in Erie with mixed results but responded well to a one month trip down to Lakeland.

Jeff Kunkel could get picked up by another team looking for a good defensive catcher. Baseball America named Kunkel the best defensive catcher in the Tigers organization following the 2006 and 2008 seasons. He had never finished a season hitting higher than .241 (at rookie ball) but this past year he finished at .252 splitting time between Erie and Toledo.