Paul Wezner, Senior Editor
The Tigers have made good use out of the Rule 5 draft, especially in helping fill the upper rungs of the farm system with talent just after Dave Dombrowski took over. Wil Ledezma has proven to be a solid find, and Chris Shelton may turn out to be a good everyday first baseman yet, but when the Tigers snagged Deivi Cruz, they truly got a find, considering they got an everyday shortstop for virtually nothing. Cruz gave the Tigers 130+ games for 5 straight years (from 1997-2001). His range diminished as he filled out, and he was never a dominant hitter, but considering the state of the club for that five year span, Cruz was a great addition.
Mark Anderson, Associate Editor, Minor Leagues
Heading into their abysmal 2003 season, the Tigers started a rebuilding process in the truest sense of the concept. They managed to carry three Rule 5 picks, and could have carried a fourth in infielder Travis Chapman. Carrying guys like Chris Shelton, Wil Ledezma, and Matt Roney in '05, and then trying to carry guys like Lino Urdaneta and Mike Bumatay the following year, served as a means to help rebuild an organization. While three of the five have moved on, Shelton and Ledezma remain; and both played significant roles at some point in the team's 2006 run to the World Series. In the end, I'd have to say Ledezma has been the most successful Rule 5 choice for the Tigers. While Chris Shelton has managed to slug his way back to Detroit, the value garnered by developing a hard throwing lefty, has to out-weigh the gains of a solid stick. Ledezma still has the potential to develop into a big time starter -- as he displayed working out of the Erie rotation in 2004 -- but even as a critical reliever, he carries immense value. If the Tigers are able to pluck someone as useful as Ledezma from the Rule 5 draft every 4-5 years, they'll be doing very well.
Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
Even though the Tigers didn't select him originally, the acquisition of Deivi Cruz has been the Tigers best Rule 5 acquisition. Cruz was plucked by the Dodgers from the Giants, and then promptly dealt with Juan Hernaiz for Jeff Berblinger. Cruz spent five years with the Tigers, with his 1999 and 2000 seasons being two of the best of his career. Cruz went on to hit 14 homers for Baltimore in 2003, and has played in over 1,200 games in nine seasons, which is definitely a solid career.
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