Tigers 2006 Rule 5 Review

With the Tigers selecting Chris Booker, only to forward him on to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash, the big league club is without a Rule 5 on the roster this year. However, they were still active in the AAA portion of the draft, selecting a pitcher Eddie Bonine while losing second baseman Eric Rodland.

The loss of the 25-year old Eric Rodland is unfortunate, but certainly not a killer to the organization. He did a post a .759 OPS last season, but that was in limited duty, as he was never able to hold the second baseman's spot full time. Rodland shows patience at the plate, and has a decent amount of gap power, but his bat likely isn't good enough to carry him all the way.

Defensively Rodland is adequate, but a bit slow, making it tough for him to get to balls up the middle. Rodland's future, if he has one, is likely to begin to learn to play other positions around the diamond (notably third base) and hope he could potentially stick as some sort of utility player.

As for the player the Tigers acquired – Eddie Bonine – he's a work in progress to say the least. The Padres decided to convert him to an exclusive knuckleball pitcher midway through last season, and he had mixed results. Of course, the potential is there, and he certainly can't be faulted on effort.

Said Lake Elsinore pitching coach Dave Rajisch, "He was in the bullpen everyday working on his mechanics, working on his balance. There are no surprises. That is how you get better."

Bonine's greatest asset lies with his versatility. He throws two different knuckleballs, one in the mid 80's, the other in the mid 70's. And while they worked to convert him to a knuckleballer, this isn't Steve Sparks we're talking about here. When he wants to, Bonine can reach back and hit 93 MPH on the radar gun.

Said one NL scout that had seen him in action, "Location of all of his pitches remain questionable but that heat coupled with the knuckler could be a deadly combination."

Thirty two of Bonine's seventy five earned runs came in just five outings where he struggled mightily, so if Bonine can indeed take a step forward in '06, he may yet be a valuable acquisition for the Tigers.

Reports from Denis Savage at MadFriars.com contributed to this report.


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