The Rule 5 Draft is a great way for the Tigers to add another promising young player to their squad. Reliever Nick Burdi and outfielder Wes Rogers are two options the Tigers could consider.
The Detroit Tigers signed outfielder Leonys Martin on Tuesday, giving them much needed outfield depth. The move also pushed the Tigers 40-man roster to 39 players.
That means the Tigers still have room to add talent through the Rule 5 Draft, held in Orlando on December 14.
Here at Motor City Bengals, we previewed potential Rule 5 selection Max Pentecost last week.
Two other potential additions include Twins pitching prospect Nick Burdi and Rockies outfield prospect Wes Rogers.
Burdi was drafted early in the second round by the Twins in 2014. He’s been a strikeout machine ever since. He has posted 153 strikeouts in 112 career innings, good for a 12.3 K/9.
His 3.38 ERA and 1.17 WHIP are strong as well.
However, Burdi has one major hold-up. He underwent Tommy John surgery back on May 31. Tommy John typically has a 12-to-14 month recovery timetable, meaning Burdi wouldn’t be able to pitch in a Tigers uniform until June 2018 at the earliest.
Burdi’s injury could actually entice the Tigers to select him. According to MLB.com, players selected in the Rule 5 draft must remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season, and must be active (not on the disabled list) for at least 90 days. If Burdi is on track to return in mid-to-late June, he could still spend 90 days on the active roster. The Tigers could have him on the disabled list for the first part of the season, clearing up a roster spot for someone else while he recovers.
Burdi has only thrown 63 2/3 innings at Double-A and has yet to appear at the Triple-A level. At 24 and coming off a serious injury, there is plenty of risk associated with Burdi. However, his track record in the minor leagues is strong and his potential (he touches 101 MPH) is of a dominant late-inning reliever.
Burdi is worth the gamble. If things don’t work out he can be returned to the Twins and it would only cost the Tigers $25,000. It’s worth taking a chance on a player who could someday lock up the ninth inning role for the Tigers.
Rockies outfielder Wes Rogers is fast. He has spent the last two seasons at High-A Modesto, where he stole a combined 113 bases.
In 2017, Rogers had the best season of his professional career, hitting .319/.377/.488 with a 132 wRC+. He also scored 94 runs, hit nine home runs and drove in 84.
Most importantly, he stole 70 bags.
Drafting a player who has not played above High-A and expecting him to succeed in the show is risky. Fortunately, Rogers would be brought on in a reserve role, easing the pressure.
Mikie Mahtook, Leonys Martin and Nick Castellanos is the current starting outfield, with Jacoby Jones in the mix. Rogers could be the Tigers fifth outfielder and pinch-runner, drawing occasional starts to get him experience. If he makes it through the season, the Tigers could send him down to the minor leagues in 2019 to get more seasoning if he needs it.
Burdi and Rogers (along with Pentecost) are all prospects the Tigers could acquire to help grow their nucleus of young talent as they continue to rebuild for the future.