The Detroit Tigers drafted Akil Baddoo with the 3rd pick in today’s Rule 5 Draft. Here’s what you need to know.
Akil Baddoo is the newest Detroit Tigers outfielder, at least for the time being. His selection is somewhat of a surprise, as outfielders aren’t the most common pick in the Rule 5 Draft. But the Tigers need help everywhere, and Akil Baddoo offers some interesting upside.
The Tigers have now selected a player in each of the last four Rule 5 Drafts:
- In 2017 they used the top overall pick on Victor Reyes, who was clearly overmatched in his first season, but has been a decent rotational outfielder the last two years. His aggressive approach and lack of over-the-fence game power will likely keep him as a 4th outfielder, but that’s honestly not a bad outcome.
- Most Rule 5 Draft picks end up like Detroit’s 5th selection in 2018, Reed Garrett. Garrett was a reliever with a mid-90s fastball, purportedly high spin rates, and two years of experience in the upper minors. But he lacked the necessary command and was bombed to the tune of an 8.22 ERA over 15.1 innings before the Tigers returned him to Texas.
- Last year the Tigers had the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft again and used it on Yankees right-handed pitcher Rony Garcia. Garcia made a few opener-style starts in 2020, but was mostly used in mop-up duty. He threw enough strikes, but he was extremely homer-prone, giving up 7 home runs in just 21 innings. He’ll likely serve as starter depth in the minors in 2021, but if he has a role in the majors it’s probably as a long reliever.
So how will Akil Baddoo fare? Only time will tell, but let’s learn more about him now.
Akil Baddoo History
Akil Baddoo was drafted 74th overall by the Minnesota Twins in the Competitive Balance B round of the 2016 draft. Taken out of Salem High School in Conyers, Georgia, Baddoo was considered a talented-but-raw outfielder with enticing tools.
He struggled in his first taste of pro ball, hitting just .178 with 2 homers in in 38 games in the Gulf Coast League, but performed better in his return to the level in 2017, and was bumped up a bit to the Appalachian League, where he hit .357 with 20 extra-base hits in 33 games.
The Twins promoted Akil Baddoo to Low-A for 2018 and he had a strong year, hitting .243 with 11 homers, 44 extra-base hits, 24 steals in 29 tries, and a 14.3% walk rate. Baddoo jumped a level to High-A in 2019, but he hit just .214 with 4 homers and 6 steals through 29 games before hurting his elbow and getting Tommy John surgery.
Akil Baddoo Scouting Report
Akil Baddoo has been a fixture on Twins prospects lists since he was drafted, making Baseball America’s Top 30 Twins prospect list in all four of his seasons, and rising as high as 11th. They describe the left-handed Baddoo as an athletic, strong outfielder with above-average speed and power potential, the chance to play center field, and a below average arm.
Akil Baddoo was ranked 13th on MLB Pipeline’s Twins list prior to being selected by the Tigers. They say this about him:
"He has shown the ability to impact the baseball with extra-base authority, though an increased strikeout rate leads some to worry about his ability to make contact enough to get to that power. He does offset the K’s with a penchant for drawing walks and his plus speed is a definite offensive asset, both in terms of stealing bases and picking up extra bases on hits.That speed also gives him a chance to stick in center field long-term and he had worked hard to improve his fringy arm before he had surgery. He’ll make his way back to the field in 2020 and still has the ceiling of being a big league starting center fielder if it all clicks."
And Eric Longenhagen and/or Kiley McDaniel at FanGraphs had this say about Akil Baddoo in their Twins list:
"Baddoo has some promising physical ingredients — speed, raw power — seasoned by high walk rates. He missed most of 2019 because he needed Tommy John in mid-May. He lacks deft barrel accuracy, but Baddoo has run well above-average walk rates to this point and he may be able to get to most of his power by hunting the right pitches, even if his swing’s a little grooved. He’s tracking like a power/OBP fourth outfielder or platoon guy."
They ranked him 26th on their list of Twins prospects, and the 40 FV grade they assign him has him in the same bin of Tigers prospects as toolsy outfielders Jose De La Cruz and Roberto Campos.
How Akil Baddoo Fits with the Detroit Tigers
As we mentioned above, the Detroit Tigers can use more depth at just about every position. Akil Baddoo will head into spring training with a relatively clear path to playing time. JaCoby Jones and Victor Reyes are the only two outfielders penciled into the starting lineup right now.
The addition of Akil Baddoo makes it slightly less likely the Detroit Tigers target an outfielder in free agency, but the team does still need some help. Baddoo will likely be in a competition with former first rounders Christin Stewart, Derek Hill, and Daz Cameron, as well as waiver claim Troy Stokes Jr., but all of those players can be sent to the minors and Baddoo cannot.
In Akil Baddoo the Detroit Tigers have taken a bit of a risk, and he may simply be too raw to stick with the club. But with his solid batting eye and his enticing mix of power and speed, he might just be able to stay with the team all year. There’s MLB regular upside here, though the most likely outcome is another 4th outfielder.