Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tigers lose Skelton, draft Kyle Bloom

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.


  1. Smaller catchers would have greater durability from an injury standpoint, as far as squatting goes.

    They would have less durability from a strength perspective, as a bigger/stronger guy can afford to lose 10-20% of his energy and still have enough left in the tank to be effective. Smaller guys typically need to get everything they can out of what they got, something much easier to do without the gear and the crouching.

    So I don't think you'd see the difference in injuries, but more in performance.

  2. Thanks for your response. I still don't really buy it though. Marathon runners are very small and run 100+ miles per week and they are never lacking in energy. I know running is not baseball but in terms of pure energy, competitive running actually requires as much if not more energy than baseball.

    I think it has more to do with strength than size. Big people tend to to be stronger than small people so, in that respect, it makes some sense that a bigger player would have more durability. However, many small athletes are very strong and should not be affected by some loss of energy.

  3. The problem is that Arizona has carried Robbie Hammock as a third catcher/utility guy for a while and just non-tendered him. You'd think, so long as he doesn't flop in March, that Skelton could stick.

  4. It was inevitable that someone would take a look at him, to see if that .400 OBP is for real. If it is, the smaller frame actually makes him more attractive because he isn't a big lead-footed guy - he might be able to handle another role, like Biggio or Murphy.

  5. Lee, I just mean to say that if you're worn out, you lose some of your punch. And I think in baseball, stronger guys have more margin for error as far as that goes. And catchers get worn out quicker, so it's doubly bad for a thin catcher.

    Marathoning doesn't require that ability to punch like say sprinting would. I think most of those guys are pretty big.

    Certainly, small strong guys could get the job done; I don't think Skelton is this. I would have liked to seen him protected, as I think he could serve a valuable platoon role, but in his case, his size/strength/position should be seen as a potential detriment.

  6. If Skelton is not strong and there is actual evidence of him tiring after catching a lot of games, then that is a different story. Mostly, I just hear that he's too small though.

    Anyway, even if it is true that he does not have the durability, I think a left-handed hitting catcher who can get on base and play a limited number of games can play an important role on a team.



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