The Rule 5 draft is slated for Thursday near the end of the GM meetings in Dallas this week. While the Tigers haven’t got involved in the Rule 5 draft much in recent history, the Tigers made a roster move signaling that they might indeed at least select a player. 1B Ryan Strieby had his contract outrighted to Toledo on Monday, opening up a spot on the Tigers 40 man roster.
The Rule 5 was a draft that was instituted as another means to level the playing field in baseball, essentially not allowing teams to hoard players in their farm system without adding them to the 40 man roster. If a team selects a player, they are put on the 40 man roster right away, and then the player must be on the 25 man roster the entire season, or the selecting team has to offer them back to their original club at a cost of 50K. With roster size relatively small in baseball, it is often difficult for teams that are contending to “hide” a player on their roster that might not be ready for the big leagues. The most successful case of a Rule 5 draftee is probably Johan Santana, and in recent history, the Tigers probably got the most bang for the buck from Chris Shelton.
For a full explanation of the Rule 5 draft, you can check it out here.
As for the Tigers opening up a spot, the likelihood they select a position player is relatively small. Rule 5 players are typically made up of older prospects that just haven’t impressed enough, or younger Latin players that haven’t made it above A ball. There are also guys that may have had careers derailed some by injury. This years crop of Rule 5 players at first glance looks a little stronger on the pitching side, and it’s here where I think the Tigers could potentially make a selection to add to the bullpen.
I thought I would take a look at some interesting names for you all. There are quite a few in the relief department.
Bryce Stowell (RP)-
Stowell is a guy that has been in the Cleveland Indians system for years. He has had a bit of the injury bug, and that limited him last season, but he is a power guy that racks up K’s by the dozens (literally) with a good fastball/slider combo. Stowell struck out 57 in 38 innings last year, and has held hitters to a sub .200 BA with ease the past two seasons. Could actually be an advantage if he does have some arm trouble, as the Tigers could put him on the disabled list if something comes up.
T.J. McFarland (RP)-
McFarland is actually a starter by trade, so he has a versatility. He has a power sinker that sits in the low 90’s most of the time, and couples that with a slider that could be better if he is going to get to the next level as a starter. He also has a change up that is developing is well. He has had some elbow soreness in the past, but this kid is a ground out machine, posting numbers of GO/AO of well over 2.00. As a bullpen guy, he wouldn’t need to do much other than show the slider and change, and let that excellent heavy fastball work for him.
Rob Bryson (RP)-
Guess what, 3 pitchers and 3 Indians relievers. Could thing their big league bullpen is good and they have a ton of arms in the minors. Bryson is yet another guy that has a real nice K rate, at well over a batter an inning. He features a low to mid 90’s fastball with solid movement, and a change up that works a strikeout pitch for him. He tends to be a fly ball pitcher, and can struggle with command on occasion, but he is pretty much ready to take that next step to the majors.
Andre Rienzo (RP)-
Rienzo is another guy from an A.L Central team that is intriguing. Rienzo is probably not ready at this point to pitch in the big leagues, and that would make it a difficult selection for the Tigers to maintain. I was just surprised to see his name on this list. The White Sox’ farm system is disgustingly bad, and honestly Rienzo qualifies as one of their better prospects. Blessed with a projectable frame, a low 90’s fastball, potential above average curve ball, and a still developing change, Rienzo has mid-rotation ability. His trouble is his command, so the Tigers may not be able to use him.
Cesar Cabral (RP)-
Cabral must be getting used to this. He was selected in the 2010 Rule 5 draft by the Rays, and didn’t quite stick. He ended up in Boston’s system, and proved that once again there is some talent in that left-handed arm of his. Cabral sits in the low 90’s with the fastball, and uses an above average change up as his main secondary pitch. He had success in AA last season, and generates a good amount of strikeouts. He also has a couple varieties of breaking balls, and could be a nice 3rd lefty out of the pen if the Tigers were interested.
Steven Geltz (RP)-
Geltz is one of those guys that didn’t really enamor the scouts coming out of the University of Buffalo, but he has done nothing but dominate minor league hitters for the most part. A short right-hander at 5’10” or so, Geltz uses a low to mid 90’s fastball that has good movement. He also possesses a slider and a splitter as well, that he can use to get swings and misses, and Geltz does that often. His K numbers are eye-popping the last 2 seasons, in 101 innings, Geltz has set down 155 guys via the whiff. His main issue? He is an extreme fly ball pitcher, and that might not play so well at the big league level, where hitters can catch up to the fastball.
There are a ton of guys that could be potential picks, so I can’t list them all here. If the Tigers do select someone, I will work on going over them with a magnifying glass, and see if they are likely to stick or not.