Thursday, December 06, 2012

Tigers Acquire Jeff Kobernus, Kyle Lobstein Via Rule 5 Draft

The Tigers acquired second baseman Jeff Kobernus and left-handed pitcher Kyle Lobstein by way of the Rule 5 draft this morning.  Kobernus was actually drafted by the Red Sox and traded to the Tigers for utility man Justin Henry.  Lobstein was drafted by the Mets and then purchased by the Tigers.

The 24-year-old Kobernus has a .279/.316/.356 batting line in four minor league seasons in the Nationals system.  So, he has neither power nor on-base skills.  What he does have, according to the 2012 Baseball America Prospect Handbook, is "plus plus speed".  He stole 42 bases in 53 attempts in 2012.  He is also considered a solid defender at second.  Baseball America also reports that Kobernus has a "hard-nosed style of play" which may endear him to manager Jim Leyland but has also contributed to nagging injuries throughout his minor league career.

With his limited skills, it's hard to see Kobernus sticking with the Tigers unless he adds some positional versatility.  General manager Dave Dombrowski thinks he can play outfield and perhaps shortstop.  However, he has played only four games professionally at short and none in the outfield.

Lobstein started 27 games for Double-A Montgomery in 2012 posting an ERA of 4.06 and an unimpressive 129/69 K/BB ratio in 144 innings.  The 23-year-old southpaw does not throw hard but, by most accounts, has good command of his pitches which include fastball, curve ball  and change-up.  While he walked a lot of batters in 2012, Kobernus generally has much better control - just 2.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2011 for example. 

Although he has started almost exclusively in the minors, Lobstein will compete for the second lefty reliever role behind Phil Coke in spring training.  Other possibilities include Duane Below and Darin Downs. 

So, the Tigers have added a gritty second baseman and a crafty lefty, who they hope can help the team in 2012.  There is a good possibility that both will be returned to their former teams prior to the start of the season though. 

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