In order to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, Major League Baseball teams must submit their 40-man rosters by November 20. The Detroit Tigers currently have 35 players on their 40-man roster following the expiration of the contracts of players who are now free agents, including the recent addition of pitching prospect Luis Cessa. When Frankie Rodriguez is added, there will be 36 players, leaving four openings.
The Rule 5 draft is conducted among all 30 MLB teams on the last day of MLB's annual winter meetings. The players eligible to be selected are minor leaguers who have been with their organizations for four or five years, but are not on the team’s 40-man roster. Players eligible this year will be those who signed their first pro contract in 2012, or those who first signed in 2011, but were under the age of 19 at the time. In 2014, the Tigers added just two players to the roster: shortstop Dixon Machado and relief pitcher Angel Nesbitt. Both players saw time in the major leagues during the past season.
Players chosen in the Rule 5 draft will have an opportunity to stay with their new club for the season. The player’s former club will receive a $50,000 fee. Players selected must be kept on their new team's 25-man roster for the entire season. They cannot be sent to the minors without clearing waivers and being offered back to their former club. A player is more likely to get through the Rule 5 draft than clearing waivers otherwise, so teams will not add players to the roster intending to take them off at a later date.
In order to make a selection, a club has to have an open space on their 40-man roster as of the start of the draft. A player could be non-tendered or put on waivers to create the roster space so that the club can select a player in the Rule 5 draft. There is a major league phase, a Triple-A phase, and a Double-A phase of the draft. The Tigers have five open roster spots currently, but need room to add new players.
Here are some of the prospects who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not added to the 40 man roster by November 20.
Michael Fulmer - RHP
MLB.com Tigers Prospect Ranking: No. 1
Beginning his journey as the New York Mets compensation pick out of Deer Creek High School in 2011, the 22-year-old right hander joined the Tigers with an assignment to Double-A Erie in August as a piece of the trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to New York. Proving resilience from several surgeries, Fulmer boasts a mid 90's fastball, as well as a slider that has been labeled one of his most effective weapons. In six games with the SeaWolves, Fulmer allowed 27 hits and fanned 33 over 31 2/3 innings of work, ranking him as the Tigers number one prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He concluded his Erie debut at 4-1 with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
Jairo Labourt - LHP
MLB.com Tigers Prospect Ranking: No. 12
Standing at 6’4, 205 pounds, Dominican lefty Jairo Labourt is every bit the image of a workhorse. As one of three pitchers to transplant from the Toronto organization in exchange for David Price, the member of the 2015 MLB Futures Game World team received assignment to Advanced-A Lakeland and the transition proved to be shaky at best. Ranked as the Tigers' number 12 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Labourt brings a three-pitch arsenal to the table, including a low-90’s fastball that tends to be his go-to pitch. With Lakeland, Labourt finished at 1-5 with a 6.31 ERA, allowing 45 hits in 35 2/3 innings, while striking out 34 with a 1.68 WHIP.
Josh Turley - LHP
MLB Tigers Prospect Ranking: No. 27
Since joining the Tigers as a 16th round selection in 2012, slow and steady has been the mantra for left hander Josh Turley. The 2015 27th ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline split the 2014 season between Advanced-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie, combining for his first 10-win season in the Tigers organization. The 25-year-old accesses up to five pitches, with a fastball sitting in the high-80’s, while his changeup has been labeled as his best offering. Turley also works a cutter, as well as mixing in an occasional knuckleball. Turley concluded 2015 with a team high 13 wins, and a 3.29 ERA. In 25 starts, Turley surrendered 151 hits, striking out 103 in in 153 innings of work.
Johan Belisario - RHP
The 22-year-old right-handed relief pitcher from Venezuela has spent just two seasons in the United States, including the 2015 season at Low-A West Michigan. He spent the 2014 season in the rookie league at Short-Season Connecticut where he posted an ERA of 0.79 with a WHIP of 0.85 in 35 innings. He followed that up working 55 innings for the Whitecaps in 2015 with an ERA of 1.79, a WHIP of 1.25, striking out 54 batters while walking 23 and earning 12 saves. He has allowed just one home run over the past two seasons. Belisario is still in Low-A ball, and he was eligible for the Rule 5 draft a year ago, so a team may not want to commit to keeping him on their 25-man roster all season.
Montreal Robertson - RHP
Robertson is a 25-year-old right-handed relief pitcher who split the 2015 season between Advanced-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. The 6’4 hurler was selected by the Tigers in the 29th round of the 2011 MLB Draft out of Coahoma Community College in Mississippi. He was eligible for the Rule 5 draft a year ago and was not selected, so he is eligible again this year. Between two teams in 2015, he worked 68 innings with a 3.31 ERA, but walked 4.6 batters per nine innings while striking out 7.7 per nine innings. The Arkansas native was part of the Tigers' delegation playing in the Arizona Fall League this year where he posted a 1.84 ERA in 14 innings of work.
>Following is a list of players in the Tigers' organization who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time. Players who were previously eligible and are not on the 40-man roster are also eligible again.
|Anthony Castro||GCL Tigers|
|Harold Castro||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Emanuel Chavez||GCL Tigers|
|Will Clinard||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Matt Davenport||SS-A Connecticut|
|Julio Felix||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Steven Fuentes||SS-A Connecticut|
|Michael Fulmer||AA Erie|
|David Gonzalez||Low-A West Michigan|
|Tyler Hanover||Adv-A Lakeland
|Gregoris Hidalgo||DSL Tigers|
|Eduardo Jimenez||GCL Tigers|
|Jairo Labourt||AA Erie|
|Drew Longley||AA Erie|
|Jeff McVaney||AAA Toledo|
|Fernando Perez||Low-A West Michigan|
|Jared Reaves||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Tim Remes||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Joe Rogers||AA Erie|
|Ismael Salgado||Adv-A Lakeland|
|Felix Santana||GCL Tigers|
|Warwick Saupold||AAA Toledo|
|Aaron Sayers||GCL Tigers|
|Slade Smith||AA Erie|
|Josh Turley||AA Erie|
|Angel Vasquez||GCL Tigers|