Would it be an exaggeration to say that Tiger Town's worst Rule 5 draft nightmare happened this afternoon? Perhaps, but it hasn't been a fun 16-18 hours for those who value the Detroit Tigers' young talent highly. Catcher James Skelton was taken with the 15th selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
When Skelton was left off Detroit's 40-man roster last month, we had some good discussion here at BYB over whether or not the Tigers could be facing a big mistake. Some thought it was a risk worth taking because no other team was likely to waste a spot on their 25-man major league roster with an undersized catching prospect who's likely a year away from the show. Others freaked out at the possibility of the Tigers losing one of their more intriguing minor leaguers at a position in which the organization doesn't have much depth.
There's a chance the Tigers' risk could still pay off, however. What are the chances that the D-Backs keep Shelton on their 25-man roster throughout the season when they already have Chris Snyder and Miguel Montero, and haven't been able to find the right deal for either player? Will this increase an urgency for Arizona to trade one of their backstops? Do they want to take a chance on Skelton's athleticism and try to play him elsewhere (such as second base, where they have an opening)?
Still, on the heels of Matt Joyce's trade to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Tigers' pool of young talent suddenly looks rather shallow. That doesn't seem particularly promising for a team that appeared to grow old very fast this season.
EDIT: I forgot to include who the Tigers picked in the Rule 5 draft. With the ninth selection, Detroit took left-handed pitcher Kyle Bloom from the Pittsburgh Pirates organization. Maybe this will effectively squelch Dave Dombrowski's curious pursuit of pitchers like Joe Beimel and John Parrish (???).
This season with Double-A Altoona, Bloom went 5-8 with a 4.19 ERA, compiling 93 strikeouts and 55 walks in 109.2 innings. If he can cut down on those walks (which is presumably why Jim Leyland seems to be cold on Clay Rapada), maybe the Tigers found themselves a situational left-handed reliever.