Following the trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler to the Los Angeles Angels Wednesday night, the Detroit Tigers had two open spots on their 40-man roster heading into Thursday's Rule 5 Draft; neither player the Tigers received from the Angels were placed on the 40-man roster.
As was to be expected, Detroit general manager Al Avila planned to make the most of his Rule 5 selection, having the top overall pick in the draft. This year, they poached outfielder Victor Reyes from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Detroit Tigers today have selected OF Victor Reyes from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. pic.twitter.com/EYrEJquK3I
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) December 14, 2017
Reyes, 23, has spent the last three seasons in the Diamondbacks system after beginning his professional career with the Atlanta Braves as a 17-year-old. Last season, Reyes compiled a solid .292/.332/.399 slash line in 126 games played, with four home runs, 51 runs batted in and 18 stolen bases.
Reyes (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) is a player that is capable of playing all three outfield positions, with the majority of his time being in right field. He rates as a “good but not great” defender, making up for any in that department with his versatility. Offensively, he shows almost no power with just a career .379 slugging percentage in six minor league seasons, but he has excellent bat-to-ball skills, the ability to spray the ball all over the field, and does not strike out often, only a little over 15 percent of the time in over 2,200 career plate appearances.
In terms of prospect status, Reyes has ranged as a mid- to low-level throughout his career thus far. He finished the 2017 season as the No. 18 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, and was listed as one of the trendier options for teams in this Rule 5 Draft. Baseball America writer Kyle Glaser provided this input regarding Reyes' defensive prowess.
Something #Tigers fans should keep an eye on RE: Victor Reyes. He'll make a highlight-reel play in the OF and look like a stud out there one day, then the next he'll take awful routes and make horrendous drops. Consistency on D will be a focal point moving forward
— Kyle Glaser (@KyleAGlaser) December 14, 2017
Reyes participated in the Arizona Fall League at season's end as well and put together a good stretch of games, hitting .316 with 12 stolen bases in 20 games (79 at-bats).
A quick reminder on the regulations surrounding the Rule 5 Draft. Any player selected in the major league round (first round) of the draft must stay on the 25-man roster for the entirety of the ensuing season, otherwise the receiving team must offer him back to his original club.
This is the second consecutive season that the Tigers have utilized their top pick in the Rule 5 Draft. This time a year ago, they selected lefty reliever Daniel Stumpf from the Kansas City Royals. However, Stumpf did not crack the 25-man roster out of spring camp so Detroit had to ship him back to Kansas City. But being a second-time Rule 5 pick, Stumpf exercised an option to become a free agent versus going back to the Royals and later signed a new deal with the Tigers.
It's important to remember too that Reyes has zero experience about the Double-A level in the minors, so he will have to really impress in spring training for the Tigers to keep him throughout the season. That said, given the current status of the organization in a rebuilding mode, Reyes will get just as much of a chance as any of the other young and unproven minor leaguers in the Tigers' system.
Tigers director of player development Dave Littlefield said the Tigers really like Reyes' athleticism and while the bat is a “projection,” they still view it as a “good fit” moving forward.
Elsewhere in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the Tigers saw three low-level minor league players from their system get plucked from other teams. Additionally, former Tigers outfielder-turned-pitcher Anthony Gose was picked by the Houston Astros, after signing a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers earlier this month. The Astros are listing Gose as a pitcher with their selection.