The Detroit Tigers have the third pick in the Rule 5 draft on December 10. A name you should know. Alex Speas.
The Detroit Tigers may or may not be picking a player in the Rule 5 draft that is taking place in a few weeks. They have the roster set at 40 with the recent additions of Matt Manning, Alex Lange, Alex Faedo, and Joey Wentz.
The Tigers tend to lean towards taking pitchers in the Rule 5 draft. Jermaine Clark, Chris Shelton, and Victor Reyes are the only positional players Detroit has taken. An arm with upside is much easier to hide in a bullpen or if you know your team is going to struggle, to earn some innings on the big league level.
So with the case of right-hander Alex Speas from the Texas Rangers is available, why should Detroit Tigers fans know about this 2016 2nd round pick out of McEachern High School in Powder Spring, Georgia?
The Rangers brought him to summer camp and was on the alternate site after touching the gun at 102 and 103 in the backfields in March. Even before his Tommy John surgery, when the Rangers put him in the bullpen, something clicked with 49Ks in 28.2 innings pitched before he was shut down in 2018. He would reappear in June of 2019, throwing for the Rangers rookie team in Arizona. Since post-surgery, he has had just one inning of work.
He offers a good power slider as his second pitch that darts down on lefties around 83 to 84 MPH. His 3/4 arm slot delivery is unique, which causes him to fly open when he is pitching, causing issues when he strides to the plate. But what I like about Speas is he is using analytics and data in making his arsenal better.
Speas was a part of the first generation of motusTHROW sensor while throwing during the 2014 Under Armour Pre-Season All-American game. These sensors allow capturing data on a pitcher to monitor health and performance. During his road back, Speas said this about the sensors while using them during rehab.
“It’s the best thing for anyone who goes through rehab,” he told us. “Some guys think you’re going to feel good and get right back into things. Having the motus sleeve and someone to show you and tell you if you’re throwing too hard too soon at various distances – it helps prevent any setbacks.”
The Rangers were using this system with other pitchers to help them build workloads and throwing programs. To have that type of data at your fingertips just makes you that much smarter and if Alex Speas is a practitioner of this, I think the Tigers with the help of new pitching coach Chris Fetter, could harass Speas’s arm effectively.
There are red flags including he has not pitched above low-A ball and the walk numbers. I heard this several times throughout doing podcasts and writing baseball and that is, there is a difference between a pitcher who can throw heat and a pitcher who can throw darts. Can a reliever provide movement on all their pitches and strike out major league hitters? Seems like common sense, right? You can’t blow everyone away with a fastball.
Jason Foley, Wladimir Pinto, and Gerson Moreno pitchers who fit the “big arm” profile are in the Tigers’ system But from all accounts, Foley is working his way back post Tommy John surgery and I haven’t seen Moreno pitched in a few seasons to gauge where he is but he is 25 and I am pretty sure Detroit would let you know if he was a “dude” or not and same can be said for Pinto.
The Tigers finished 27th among relievers in K per 9. Of the teams who finished in the top 5 in the same category, the Brewers, Reds, Cubs, Indians, and the Twins, all made the post-season. Detroit could use a big K pitcher in their bullpen and possibly Alex Speas could fit the description. It is hard to ignore the upside he represents.