News broke on Tuesday that the Detroit Tigers had officially cut ties with utility man (and perpetual scapegoat) Ryan Raburn. The Tigers didn’t need to make the move at that point – the deadline to tender offers (or not tender offers) isn’t for another week – but they had to set their 40-man roster by the 20th in preparation for the Rule 5 draft and they determined the roster spot would be better served in protecting a prospect rather than hoping for a Raburn bounce-back.
April 01, 2012; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Dixon Machado (29) makes a play during the spring training game against the New York Mets at Digital Domain Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
Initial indications were that Detroit would use one of their open spots to add potential closer candidate Bruce Rondon to the 40-man – and they did just that – but they also had a couple more spots available. They used those spots to protect shortstop Dixon Machado and relief pitcher Melvin Mercedes from the Rule 5 draft.
MCB’s John Verburg recently ranked Machado as the #29 prospect in the organization, down two spots from a year ago. Here’s (part of) what he had to say about him:
"Defensively, he is what Tigers fans are looking for. He is slick, can make all the plays to his left and his right, and has a rocket arm. An arm that brings scouts to the stands. Machado is quick and runs well too. But oh that hitting…"
Machado looks terrific in the field and he runs pretty well when he gets on base (which is rare enough) but he doesn’t hit with a lick of power. Actually, he doesn’t hit a lick at all. He was just 20 in the Florida State League last year – an aggressive assignment to be sure – but he hit just .195 with a .283 on-base percentage. He needs to add mass to his frame if he’s going to hit, but that hasn’t happened yet through three minor league seasons.
Melvin Mercedes has not cracked an MCB Top-50 list yet (unless he’s going to be included in the still-to-be-named top fifteen, which I highly doubt), but he did earn an honorable mention a year ago from James Chipman:
"He’s a bulldog on the mound, possessing exactly the mentality that you like to see in a late inning reliever. He has a tendency to become a bit wild and hittable at times. Still, keeping with the theme, the projectability is there. His deceptive delivery yields a low-to-mid 90s fastball that features a great deal of sinking movement. He also mixes in a slider that flashes plus-potential."
Merecedes spent most of the year in West Michigan (he threw one inning in Lakeland) and put up a terrific 2.80 ERA. That stellar number is a bit superficial as he was the beneficiary of a .268 BABIP. His 6.0 K/9 rate and 3.64 BB/9 rates weren’t great, but he kept the ball in the yard (as he has his entire career) and posted a career best strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s now two-years removed from Tommy John surgery and has shown year-to-year improvement.
Neither of these players are extremely great prospects at this point, but the Tigers obviously feel like there’s a good chance they would lose them if they were subjected to the Rule 5 Draft.