For all the criticism he had to take after being the Detroit Tigers pick in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, Victor Reyes has been an example of a realistic best-case scenario when choosing amongst the players left off 40-man rosters around Major League Baseball. Reyes has been serviceable each of the past few seasons and would likely be a quality option on more competitive teams.
Last year, the Detroit Tigers used the first choice to select Rony Garcia of the Yankees and kept him on their active roster all season – which allows the club to keep him going forward and place him at whichever level they choose. MCB’s Rogelio Castillo wrote an in-depth piece on hard-throwing Texas Rangers farmhand Alex Speas I suggest you read. He lays out the argument for Speas, so I’ll focus on five other players I’d be happy to see Detroit scoop up in Rule 5 this year.
5. C Peyton Henry, Milwaukee Brewers (#15 prospect)
Maybe it’s the presence of the new Tigers Director of Player Development Kenny Graham, who used to be in the Brewers organization. Still, I’m always inclined to include a Brewers prospect. Graham knows the Milwaukee system exceptionally well, and Henry has been taking care of pitchers in the Brewers system for years. Selected in the sixth round out of high school in 2016, Henry has turned himself into an extremely reliable defensive catcher with legitimate power potential. With 24 homers in his past two seasons, Henry would’ve been a safe bet to have played at Double-A in 2020. The 23-year old represents one of the best catchers available in Rule 5 this year.
4. 2B Omar Estevez, Los Angeles Dodgers (#21 prospect)
Estevez, not related to Emilio, is a bat-first prospect. He might be a bat-only prospect in some ways, but quality offensive players are probably the hottest commodity in Rule 5. Equipped with two years of shortstop experience in Class-A, the 22-year-old is a no-doubt second baseman in the big leagues due to a lack of range and arm strength. On the flip side, he’s shown himself to be a quality hitter over his last two MiLB seasons, batting a combined .283. That’s about as high a batting average as you’ll get for someone in this draft, and it might be all he can do, but it’s the essential part of the skillset.
3. OF Buddy Reed, Oakland Athletics (#24 prospect)
Power? Check. Speed? Discount double-check. Switch-hitter? You bet. Good defender? Very much so. Reed checks a ton of boxes and is as talented as any position player available in this draft. In 2018, Reed represented the San Diego Padres in the MLB Futures Game. A year later, San Diego shipped him to Oakland for Jurickson Profar, where he never played a single game within the A’s system before being left unprotected for the second time in as many years. Regardless, there aren’t many with Reed’s skillset sitting around, and I think he’d make a great pick. Also, there’s a real opportunity for references to the 90s movie ‘Heavyweights’, which some teams made sure to serenade him throughout his career in the minors.
2. RHP Enyel De Los Santos, Philadelphia Phillies (#9 prospect)
Matt Rappa, a writer from one of our sister sites, the Phillies ‘That Ball is Outta Here…’ recently did a terrific write-up on Santos. De Los Santos was once a member of the talent-rich San Diego Padres system before being traded to Philly in exchange for Freddy Galvis. The hard-throwing righty is also the only member of this list with multiple years of big-league experience. The numbers aren’t great, but he’s certainly held his own. Thus far, De Los Santos has a career 5.40 ERA in 12 games. If the 25-year-old is ever going to break out, 2021 will be the year he’ll do it. The Tigers bullpen doesn’t have too many hard throwers, so this would be a welcome addition.
1. RHP Brett de Geus, Los Angeles Dodgers (#27 prospect)
Brett de Geus is my favorite prospect this year for many reasons. First and foremost, he has a story that lends itself to him remaining a Dodgers secret. Even though Los Angeles drafted the 23-year old in 2017, a heart condition forced him to miss the remainder of that season. A year later, he struggled to regain his form, but in 2019, de Geus had taken a fastball that used to top out at 92 and sent it as high as 98 and dominated the competition in 2019. Equipped with a fastball and curveball rated a ‘60’ on the scouting scale by MLB Pipeline, the righty dropped his walk rate from 3.9 to 1.9 in 2019. Most MLB teams would add him to their 40-man roster, but the Dodgers have too much talent to protect all of it, which could be to the Tigers’ benefit.
Which of these players do you like best? Will the Tigers surprise us again with an under-the-radar pick? Leave a comment below and find Dan on Twitter at @ThatDanHasty!