Tigers Go Back To Rule 5 Well
The Rule 5 draft affords organizations a chance to add depth, typically at the expense of deeper clubs.
The Tigers have seized on the opportunity, taking outfielder Victor Reyes from the D-backs in 2017 and righthander Rony Garcia from the Yankees in 2019. Both players suited up for Detroit in 2020, the latter because of Rule 5 restrictions.
Reyes, however, has carved out regular playing time and started 50 of Detroit's 58 games last season.
Fast forward to 2020 and the Tigers selected 22-year-old outfielder Akil Baddoo from the Twins with the third pick in the Rule 5 draft.
Baddoo is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound center fielder whom Minnesota drafted in 2016 as a supplemental second-rounder out of high school in Conyers, Ga. He reached High-A Fort Myers in 2019 but played just 29 games before having Tommy John surgery.
Baddoo's selling tool, according to scouts, is his speed.
“He runs really, really well, defensively and on the bases,” a National League scout said. “Sometimes, there are guys who, when they get down to the lower minors, they run with reckless abandon. That's how he was.”
As an amateur, Baddoo was no stranger to the scouting circuit.
“(He was) well-known and well-scouted,” another NL scout said. “He had bat speed and made hard contact. (He is) athletic with very good makeup and played the game the right way.”
In a full season at Low-A Cedar Rapids in 2018, Baddoo hit .243/.351/.419 with 11 home runs, 24 stolen bases and 74 walks. Like all minor league players, he lost 2020 to the pandemic and canceled season.
Baddoo’s athleticism is seemingly enough to sell the Tigers on any remaining projection.
“He's pretty compact,” the NL scout said. “He could add some muscle here and there. Defensively, he can play center field or left field. I think his (average) arm limits him a little bit."
“The closing speed masks some questionable routes,” the scout said. “My guess is he will be really overmatched . . . but if he can withstand the loss of development, he might evolve into a good fourth or fifth outfielder.”
— After having Tommy John surgery in May 2020, lefthander Joey Wentz reached 120 feet in his throwing rehabilitation in February. Wentz, along with Travis Demeritte was traded from the Braves to Detroit for Shane Greene at the 2019 trade deadline.