Detroit Tigers Add Michael Fulmer, Two Other Prospects to 40-Man Roster
With Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft on the horizon, the Detroit Tigers have added a trio of pitching prospects to the team’s 40-man roster. The Tigers have added left-hander Jairo Labourt and right-handed pitchers Michael Fulmer and Montreal Robertson to the 40-man roster in order to protect the three from being selected in the Rule 5 Draft.
Labourt was acquired as part of the David Price trade, along with Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. The 21-year-old is a starting pitcher who threw 116 innings in the low minors during 2015. While he has never progressed above Single-A, Labourt is still regarded by MLB.com as the Tigers’ 11th best prospect. The website ranks him ahead of the likes of Joe Jimenez, Dixon Machado, Drew VerHagen and Wynton Bernard.
Fellow trade deadline acquisition Fulmer came to Detroit via the Mets in the Yoenis Cespedes trade. The right-handed pitcher excelled in 2015, posting a 10-3 record, a 2.74 ERA and (perhaps most impressively) 125 strikeouts in 124.2 innings pitched. Thanks to a blazing fastball and nasty slider, Fulmer is widely regarded as Detroit’s most promising prospect. He might not be in the Tigers rotation until the 2017 season, but there is some thought to putting the former New York farmhand in the bullpen next season.
Rounding out the trio is Montreal Robertson. Unlike the other two, he wasn’t acquired at the trade deadline by Detroit. The right-hander was drafted by the Tigers in the 29th round of the 2011 Amateur Draft. Predominantly pitching out of the bullpen, Robinson threw a combined 68 innings, during stints in Single-A and Double-A. Despite being saddled with 10 losses, the 25-year-old managed a respectable 3.31 ERA. He also struck out 7.7 batters per nine innings.
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Following the transactions, the Tigers 40-man roster now sits at 38. This allows the team the flexibility to select a player or two in the Rule 5 Draft. If the team wants to keep a selected player, they would obviously need to keep the batter or pitcher on the 25-man roster all season. While that may seem constricting in terms of roster constructing, teams can add useful pieces during the Rule 5 Draft. Nowhere was this more prominent than with playoff teams from last season. Texas acquired starting centerfielder Delino DeShields in 2014 while the Cubs brought in closer Hector Rondon in the 2012 version of the draft. Sean Gilmartin of the National League-champion New York Mets pitched to a 2.67 ERA in 57.1 innings last season after joining from Atlanta.
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All said, DeShields, Rondon and Gilmartin combined to post a 4.4 WAR last year. Other notable names to switch hands in recent Rule 5 Drafts include Astros’ reliever Josh Fields and Baltimore pitcher T.J. McFarland.
With the additions of Labourt, Fulmer and Robinson to the Tigers’ 40-man roster, Detroit has protected some the team’s best young pitching talent from being selected by another team while creating flexibility to add more impact players.