Detroit Tigers 2014 Rule 5 Preview

Every year clubs are tasked with buttoning up their 40-man rosters by adding young players that require protection from the Rule 5 draft. With the deadline to add players set for tomorrow, the Tigers will face several decisions that could lead to roster moves as the deadline approaches, and could lead to a few less players available for other teams to steal.

Among the new Tigers eligible for this year’s Rule 5 draft are college draftees (generically speaking) from the 2011 draft, high school draftees from the 2010 draft, and many of the club’s international signings from the 2010 signing period. Other players eligible include players signed internationally or from the drafts prior to the years above.

The Tigers minimized some of the necessary moves this month when they added catcher James McCann and left-hander Kyle Ryan for the stretch run. Both players would have been added this winter without question.

Other players from the 2011 draft that would at least draw a passing glance include first baseman Aaron Westlake and Dean Green, outfielders Jason Krizan, Chad Wright, and Jeff Holm, and pitchers Tommy Collier, Guido Knudson, and Montreal Robertson. From the 2010 draft, there are also several players that merit acknowledgment, including pitchers Alex Burgos and Jeff Ferrell, and the since released Patrick Leyland.

The Tigers must also consider several Latin American prospects like Endrys Briceno, Edgar De La Rosa, Brenny Paulino, Confesor Lara, Angel Nesbitt, Johan Belisario, and Dixon Machado.

The 2011 draft does not yield any necessary additions aside from McCann, and that move has already been accomplished. Similarly, Kyle Ryan is the only viable addition from the 2010 draft, meaning there are no other drafted prospects worth serious consideration in advance of tomorrow’s deadline.

Among the Latin American prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft, pitchers Johan Belisaroi and Confesor Lara have legitimate big league stuff and some projection to pitch in the 6th or 7th innings, but neither has pitched above the short-season levels and are unlikely to be added to the roster this time around.

As recently as two to three years ago, Brenny Paulino would have looked like a lock to be added to the roster, but two years lost to injuries and horrific control leave Paulino as a prospect in dire need of resurrecting his prospect status. That type of stature heading into the Rule 5 draft is not a good way to earn addition to the 40-man roster.

Shortstop Dixon Machado has previously been a member of the Tigers 40-man roster and he was removed after stagnating in the middle minors due to injuries. Finally healthy again in 2014, Machado broke out in the second half at Erie, reestablishing his prospect stock and putting himself back on the map as a legitimate big league prospect. Machado, with a floor in the utility player range, would almost certainly be taken in the Rule 5 draft by a team looking for a glove first middle infielder. With a 6-plus glove and easy plus-plus arm, Machado fits that mold.

Endrys Briceno and Edgar De La Rosa have been linked to each other throughout their development, and if not for Tommy John surgery earlier this year for Briceno, both pitchers would be looking at an addition to the 40-man roster this week. De La Rosa showed improved feel for throwing strikes in 2014, without having to dial back his velocity, instead sitting in the mid-90s and reaching 98-99 mph at times. Even with a likely relief profile long term, the Tigers will almost certainly add De La Rosa to the 40-man roster.

Lastly, reliever Angel Nesbitt showed a spike in velocity in 2014, reaching the upper-90s with a lively fastball on a regular basis. Nesbitt breezed through High-A Lakeland and while he had some struggles at Double-A, he is on the verge of helping a big league bullpen. That type of breakout campaign puts a power-armed reliever on the 40-man map.

If the Tigers dig a little deeper and begin adding players that are a much larger long shot, outfielder Jason Krizan could be added as a potential reserve outfielder, along with Endrys Briceno if the club feels like a team would take a chance on the injured right-hander.

At the end of the day, when the Tigers need to finalize their 40-man roster for the Rule 5 draft, fans should expect to see shortstop Dixon Machado, and right-handers Angel Nesbitt and Edgar De La Rosa added to the roster to protect them and make them options to help the club in 2015 and beyond.

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