Detroit Tigers protect four important prospects from Rule 5 draft

Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

The Detroit Tigers are adding four players to their 40-man roster before Friday's deadline to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 draft in December, the team announced.

The players are right-handers Matt Manning, Alex Faedo and Alex Lange, as well as left-hander Joey Wentz. Three of them — Manning (No. 3), Wentz (No. 9) and Faedo (No. 10) — are members of the Tigers' top prospect list, according to MLB Pipeline.

The Tigers opened up the fourth spot on the 40-man roster for Lange when they released utility player Brandon Dixon on Thursday.

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The Rule 5 draft will take place Dec. 10 at the virtual winter meetings. When a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft, they must stay on the active roster for the entire season or be offered back to their former organization.

Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning throws a pitch during summer camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Tuesday, July 7, 2020.
Detroit Tigers pitcher Matt Manning throws a pitch during summer camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Tuesday, July 7, 2020.

Manning projects to reach the majors in the 2021 season. With an imposing fastball, the 22-year-old put together a 2.56 ERA in 133⅔ innings across 24 starts in 2019 for Double-A Erie, adding 148 strikeouts and 38 walks. He spent last season at the alternate training site in Toledo.

Wentz, 23, came to the organization from the Atlanta Braves (with outfielder Travis Demeritte) in the trade involving reliever Shane Greene in July 2019. The 6-foot-5 lefty went to Double-A Erie, where he posted a 2.10 ERA, 37 strikeouts and four walks in 25⅔ innings across five starts. In March, Wentz underwent Tommy John surgery. He is expected to miss most of the 2021 season.

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Pitcher Joey Wentz, center, warms up during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.
Pitcher Joey Wentz, center, warms up during Detroit Tigers spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla., Friday, Feb. 14, 2020.

Faedo, 25, was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2017 draft and should make his MLB debut in 2021. For Double-A Erie in 2019, the 6-foot-5 right-hander had a 3.90 ERA, 134 strikeouts and 25 walks in 115⅓ innings. Faedo spent July's summer camp in a hotel room because of a positive COVID-19 test, but he returned to the mound at the alternate training site in Toledo.

In late August, Manning and Faedo were each shut down with forearm strains. They went to Lakeland, Florida, for the team's instructional league in Lakeland, Florida, in October and November but did not compete in games or scrimmages. Both of them are fully recovered from the arm injuries and will aim to pitch their way into the majors this spring training.

Tigers pitching prospect Alex Faedo warms up during spring training Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.
Tigers pitching prospect Alex Faedo warms up during spring training Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019, at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla.

Lange, 25, appeared in stints at summer camp and the alternate training site this season, as the Tigers didn't want him to lose an entire year of development. He was acquired (with righty Paul Richan) from the Chicago Cubs for Nicholas Castellanos in July 2019. The Tigers sent him to Double-A Erie and moved him to the bullpen, where he pitched nine games for the SeaWolves that year: 3.45 ERA, 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 15⅔ innings.

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Because the Tigers are protecting Lange, who was recently at instructional league camp, expect him to make his MLB debut in the 2021 season.

Last year, the Tigers protected six players: right-hander Beau Burrows, outfielder Daz Cameron, righty Anthony Castro, outfielder Derek Hill, righty Kyle Funkhouser and infielder Isaac Paredes. All of them made their big-league debuts in 2020.

Two offseasons ago, the only addition to the 40-man for Rule 5 protection was right-hander Franklin Perez, one of three prospects the Tigers acquired in the 2017 Justin Verlander trade. Because of Perez's injuries since coming to Detroit, it's unlikely he will make the majors until at least 2022.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers protect four pitching prospects from Rule 5 draft