Today is the deadline to add players to the 40 man roster in order not to expose them to next month's Rule 5 draft. The Tigers announced this morning that they have added five players: pitchers Alfredo Figaro, Zach Simons and Guillermo Moscoso and outfielders Wilkin Ramirez and Casper Wells.
The moves give them a total of 38 players on their roster. With the Tigers looking to fill a lot of needs this winter, that number will likely grow prior to the Rule 5 draft. I would expect them to add a starter, two relievers, a catcher and a shortstop some time this winter. The fact that they left two spots open means that they can add a couple of players through trade or free agency prior to the draft without making any other moves. Of course, they can still drop players if necessary with Macay McBride, Aquilino Lopez, Eddie Bonine and Mike Hessman being possibilities.
Wilkin Ramirez has long been touted by scouts as a five tool player and this year the stats matched hype. In his first full season at Double-A the converted third baseman batted .303/.371/.522 with 26 stolen bases for Erie. The 23-year-old right-handed batter did struggle in his brief stint at Toledo (.083 in 36 at bats).
Casper Wells was a surprise mid-season call up to Erie but he made the most of his opportunity batting .289/.376/.589. He continued his success in the Arizona Fall League hitting .316 with seven homers. He had 34 round trippers for West Michigan, Erie and Mesa of the AFL combined.
Zach Simons was the pitcher acquired from the rockies for Jason Grilli. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.36 ERA with 61 strikeouts for Lakeland. Alfredo Figaro had a 2.05 ERA in 123 innings for West Michigan but struggled at Lakeland (4.91 ERA in 5 starts). Guillermo Moscoso registered a 2.70 ERA and a spectacular 122/21 K/BB ratio for Lakeland and Erie.
The biggest disappointed for me was that James Skelton was not protected. The 5-11 165 pound catcher has little power but has been an on base machine. Last year, the left-handed batter had a .456 OBP for Lakeland and Erie. There is some concern about his small size making it difficult to withstand the rigors of full seasons at the catching position. That puzzles me a bit because it would seem that a smaller catcher would put less stress on his knees. I think a more legitimate concern would be whether he can maintain his on base skills in the majors given his absence of power.
It is possible the Tigers don't think he will be selected because most teams will not want to keep an inexperienced catcher on the major league roster all season. I suspect someone will take the risk though. He seems like the kind of non-traditional player on which someone like Billy Beane might take a chance.