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Detroit Tigers Rule 5 Options: Outfield

Sep 26, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill (54) catches a line drive for an out during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Derek Hill (54) catches a line drive for an out during the fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Detroit Tigers need to address their outfield this offseason. Can they find an upgrade in the Rule 5 Draft?

The Detroit Tigers’ outfield ranked 25th in fWAR, thanks largely to hot stretches from JaCoby Jones and Victor Reyes. They head into 2021 with no left fielder, and realistically, they could stand to upgrade at all three outfield spots.

It’s likely the Tigers give Christin Stewart one more shot to land the left field gig, or they may move Jones or Reyes to left to make room in the outfield for Daz Cameron. The remaining options, Harold Castro, Travis Demeritte, Derek Hill, and Troy Stokes Jr., all face long odds to secure a spot, even with the available playing time.

It seems likely the Detroit Tigers will look to upgrade their outfield with at least one player, ideally in the form of a veteran. But could they repeat their 2017 process and select the next Victor Reyes in the Rule 5 Draft?

Below you’ll find five interesting outfield options in this year’s Rule 5 Draft, and you can get a bit more info on one other outfielder here. Also, be sure to check out our Rule 5 previews on catchers, corner infielders, and pitchers. Now, to the outfield!

T.J. Friedl

Age on Opening Day: 25.7

Bats: Left

Highest Level: Double-A

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Cincinnati Reds outfielder TJ Friedl (79) leads for a catch during practice at the Cincinnati Reds spring training facility in Goodyear, Ariz., on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019.Reds Spring Training /

T.J. Friedl is a pretty cool scouting story. He was a walk-on at Nevada and hit just .216 as a freshman, so he took 2015 as a redshirt year and didn’t play. Then he came out and hit .401 as a redshirt sophomore in 2016. But he didn’t realize he was draft eligible, and apparently scouts didn’t either. He performed very well in summer ball and continued his solid play after joining Team USA, at which point teams realized he was eligible to sign. The Reds eventually signed him for $732,500, the most ever given to an undrafted player. He’s been solid as a pro, but nothing special, showing solid bat-to-ball skills, plus speed, and good outfield defense, but not much pop. In 2019 he hit .235/.347/.385 with 5 home runs and 13 steals in 65 games, but he had season-ending ankle surgery in July. He was unprotected in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, but no one selected him, perhaps due to questions about how his ankle would affect his speed-based profile. When healthy, he projects as a solid 4th outfielder.

Cooper Hummel

Age on Opening Day: 26.4

Bats: Both

Highest Level: Double-A

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Cooper Hummel might be the most interesting outfielder on this list, in part because of where else he can play. An 18th-round pick out of the University of Portland in 2016, Hummel was primarily a catcher in college. He was drafted as such, and he has played catcher in 80 pro games, but his arm is a bit light, and he has mostly played in left field. He has shown terrific plate discipline in pro ball, with a career 15.9% walk rate and 21.7% strikeout rate, and in Double-A in 2019 he blasted 17 home runs. Hummel’s raw power probably grades out as average, but a switch-hitting corner outfielder with patience, some pop, and the ability to catch in a pinch could be pretty useful on the end of the bench.

Cody Thomas

Age on Opening Day: 26.5

Bats: Left

Highest Level: Double-A

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Mar 8, 2020; Surprise, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Thomas (95) hits a two run home run against the Texas Rangers during the second inning of a spring training game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

An athletic specimen, Cody Thomas stands 6’4 and was a quarterback at Oklahoma before losing his job to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Thomas then decided to focus on baseball, but he played just 54 games total with the Sooners. The Dodgers liked his tools and selected him in the 13th round in 2016. Despite being relatively raw for his age, Thomas has performed well in pro ball, showing above-average speed, plus power, and the chance to be an above-average defender. He hit .236 with 23 home runs in Double-A in 2019, with a solid 8.6% walk rate and a borderline 27.1% strikeout rate, but he wasn’t selected in last-year’s Rule 5 draft. Perhaps teams were scared off by an ugly 2018 performance in the Arizona Fall League, when he went just 10-for-62 with 23 strikeouts, but he has the tools of an everyday right fielder.

Garrett Whitley

Age on Opening Day: 24.0

Bats: Right

Highest Level: High-A

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL – JUNE 30: Tampa Bay Rays 2015 first-round selection, outfielder Garrett Whitley, 18, takes batting practice for the first time in a Rays’ uniform before the start of a game against the Cleveland Indians on June 30, 2015 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

Garrett Whitley is the hail mary on this list. Tampa selected him 13th overall in the 2015 draft, as part of the same high-school outfield class as Kyle Tucker, Trent Grisham, and Daz Cameron. He still has all the tools that made him a top-15 pick, including plus power and speed, and the ability to draw plenty of walks. But the New York native was considered very raw when he was drafted, and he has missed a lot of development time, including all of the 2018 season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He returned in 2019 to hit just .226 with a horrific 37.1% strikeout rate in High-A, but his 10 homers, 16 steals, and 14.1% walk rate still made him 26% better than the average Florida State League hitter. With another lost year in 2020 Whitley is probably far too raw to take, but it’s fun to dream on his tools.

Chavez Young

Age on Opening Day: 23.8

Bats: Both

Highest Level: High-A

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Chavez Young is another fascinating story. A native of the Bahamas, he moved to Georgia in high school and was drafted in the 39th round by the Blue Jays. Unlike most players picked that late, he actually signed, getting a $200K bonus. He has made steady progress through the system, and became a fan favorite in Low-A Lansing in 2018 after hitting .285/.363/.445 with 50 extra-base hits and 44 steals. He didn’t fare quite as well once he left the friendly dimensions of Lansing, batting .247/.315/.354 with 24 steals in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Young earns terrific marks for his makeup, and he’s a switch-hitter with plus speed, a plus arm, average raw power, and the ability to capably man all three outfield positions. Jumping to the big leagues would be asking an awful lot, but it looks like he’ll be at least a 4th outfielder in the future.

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