I'm behind my fellow Tigers bloggers on posting something about the 40-man roster that the team officially released yesterday. Fortunately, a few of you took it on yourselves to discuss in the comments of yesterday's last post. (Thank you for that.) As it turns out, however, being slow may have worked out, since more information has since been released and one player's status needed to be clarified.
Presumably, the big news was the five players the Tigers added to the roster: Starting pitchers Guillermo Moscoso and Alfredo Figaro, reliever Zach Simons, and outfielders Wilkin Ramirez and Casper Wells.
Those additions put 38 players on the roster, which leaves some wiggle room for any transactions or signings to be made in the next few weeks.
Of course, the natural impulse is to focus more on the snubs, the players left off the roster and thus eligible to be taken by another team in next month's Rule 5 draft. I thought Will Rhymes was a surprising omission, given how well he played last season (.307/.363/.392 average) and his participation in the Arizona Fall League. But since pitching often seems to be at a premium in the Rule 5 draft, perhaps Detroit thinks a small infielder with not much power will slide through without being claimed.
That's why the Tigersosphere was up in arms when Luis Marte wasn't listed on the 40-man roster. Starting pitchers who throw 78 strikeouts in 103 innings (along with 22 Ks in 17 1/3 innings in winter ball) aren't in abundance throughout the Tigers' organization. After further review, however, Detroit didn't need to protect Marte. He isn't eligible for the Rule 5 because he was 18 years old before signing with the Tigers.
But the one omission that's raising the most eyebrows in the Tigersosphere is catcher James Skelton. Skelton is perhaps the most intriguing Tigers prospect, not just because of the dearth of catchers in the minor league system, but due to a small body type (5'11", 165 lbs.) not normally associated with that position.
Perhaps his physical measurements are the reason Detroit left him unprotected, thinking the other teams in baseball would look at Skelton's height and weight and write him off. But Skelton has shown a gift for throwing out basestealers (28 of 73) and getting on base (.416 OBP in five minor league seasons), two skills that should be coveted. He also bats left-handed, which makes him a possible platoon partner with Dusty Ryan, if the Tigers felt they could go young at that position next season.
Leaving Skelton unprotected is a decision the Tigers could end up sorely regretting if he's drafted by another major league team and ends up as their starting catcher down the line. For an organization in need of young catching talent, it's a curious, almost baffling maneuver.