As I expected, the Tigers lost catching prospect James Skelton in the Rule 5 draft when he was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 23 year old catcher has been an on base machine in the minors reaching base at .456 clip in 87 games for Lakeland and Erie in 2008. The rap on him is that at 5-11 165 pounds that he is too small to be a catcher.
It is felt by many in the game that small catchers will have troubles with stamina over a full season. I have never been given a convincing reason why small players should have durability issues. I would think that it could be an advantage for a catcher because it means less weight on the knees.
Anyway, there is a more legitimate concern with Skelton and that is lack of power. He had just 17 extra base hits in 297 at bats last year. It will be difficult for him to maintain his on base skills at higher levels with such a dearth of power. Still, in a system that lacks catchers, I really hate to see them lose a left-handed hitter with a .456 OBP. Was it really that important to keep Eddie Bonine protected on the roster?
In other Rule 5 news, the Tigers drafted pitcher Kyle Bloom from the Pirates system. The 25 year old left-hander posted a 4.19 ERA and 93/55 K/BB ratio in 109 2/3 innings for Altoona of the Eastern League last year. He apparently made some adjustments during the year and improved as the season progressed. His FIP went from 5.17 in April-June to 3.33 in July-August. He then continued to pitch well in the Hawaii Winter baseball league putting up a 1.56 ERA in 7 starts.
The Tigers must keep Bloom on the roster all year or return him to the Pirates. If he does make the team, it would almost surely be as a reliever. I suspect he'll end up being returned before the season though. The same could be true about Skelton since it will be difficult to keep an unready catcher on the roster all year.