Digging back into Rule 5 Draft options, beginning with some interesting catchers.
With the non-tender deadline over, and the Detroit Tigers yet to make any moves, it looks more likely the team will look to make a low-budget addition to their roster in the Rule 5 Draft. Could they target any catchers?
But let’s get a bit more granular here and begin focusing on specific positions. Detroit Tigers catchers collectively had the second worst fWAR in baseball last year, and the fact they never called up Jake Rogers, their top catching prospect at the time, doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to help in 2021. So the need is there.
Traditionally, catcher is one of the least likely positions to be addressed in the Rule 5 Draft — only third basemen are drafted less often — with just four backstops taken (out of 146 total selections) in the past decade. However, all four of those catchers spent the next season in the big leagues, so when catchers are taken they tend to stick.
Below you’ll find info on five catchers the Detroit Tigers could add, and for a profile on Milwaukee Brewers catcher Payton Henry, click here.
Age on Opening Day: 24.2
Highest Level: High-A
Jose Herrera was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ most expensive international signing in 2013, and he has long been praised for his catching skills and arm, though mobility questions started to surface as he got older. He shows fringe-average raw power, solid contact ability, and he’s always had a patient approach at the plate — he ran a 17.6% walk rate in 2019. The main issue with Herrera has been lost time. He’s been injured in nearly every pro season, and he was suspended for 50 games in 2018 after testing positive for stimulants. The 90 games he played in 2019 were a career high. It’s possible he would’ve seen action in Double-A in 2020, which would make him slightly less risky, but with his defensive skills and patience there’s a chance he could stick on an MLB roster.
Age on Opening Day: 24.9
Highest Level: Double-A
Johnny Pereda was eligible for the 2019 Rule 5 Draft but wasn’t selected, and then in February the Chicago Cubs traded him to the Boston Red Sox for Travis Lakins. Pereda’s best attribute is probably his advanced approach, with career walk and strikeout rates of 10.6% and 13.8%, respectively. He also has a strong arm and he’s been durable, but he’s an average defender, and he shows very little in the way of game power, with just 15 home runs in 486 career games. He held his own in the 2018 Arizona Fall League, going 8-for-29 with two doubles and three walks, but he’s never going to be a big offensive threat.
Age on Opening Day: 26.2
Highest Level: Triple-A
Caleb Hamilton never spent an inning behind the plate in college, instead spending most of his time manning third base, second base, or the outfield for Oregon State. He never hit much in college, either, but he’s managed to carve out a pro baseball career by being incredibly versatile and showing improvement on offense. He always had a plus arm and he’s now become a solid catcher, he takes walks, and he has enough pop to keep teams honest. He won’t win a gold glove or a batting title, but his ability to play everywhere could make him valuable on the end of the bench.
Age on Opening Day: 23.1
Highest Level: High-A
Rodolfo Duran signed with the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and then spent the next four seasons kicking around rookie ball. He had his breakout in Low-A in 2018, hitting .260 with 18 home runs. His offense tailed off in the pitcher friendly Florida State League in 2019, but Duran’s best tools are on the defensive side anyway. He’s athletic, with a plus arm and good agility behind the plate. He’s too aggressive at the plate and will probably always hit for middling average, but his defensive tools and fringe-average raw power could make him a viable backup.
Age on Opening Day: 26.5
Highest Level: Triple-A
José Godoy is the oldest catcher on this list, but he’s also the most major-league ready. In 2019 he hit .276/.354/.431 between Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis, and he’s always shown quality contact skills from the left side of the plate. He’s a below-average power hitter, but he’s a decent defender with a quality arm. He became a free agent in early November and the Mariners signed him shortly thereafter, but they left him unprotected for the draft, and his lefty bat and proximity to the Majors could make him a potential target.