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Free Press’ Anthony Fenech dissects Tigers free agency from Winter Conferences, Nicholas Castellanos trade speak, Rule 5 decide & more, Dec. thirteen, Las Vegas.
Anthony Fenech, Detroit Free Press

LAS VEGAS — After last season’s wrestle to seek out Victor Reyes enjoying time within the outfield, the Detroit Tigers went a special path in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft.

With the No. 5 decide, the team selected Reed Garrett, a reliever from the Texas Rangers organization who will arrive in spring training with an inside track at making his major-league debut.

Garrett, who turns 26 in January, is coming off his strongest professional season, in which he posted a 2.04 ERA and 1.20 ERA while spending time with Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock in 2018. Garrett struck out 61 batters in 61⅔ innings.

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In short, Garrett is a hard thrower with command issues, which lead multiple scouts polled to peg him as an “up-and-down guy” — a pitcher who is shuttled back-and-forth between Triple-A and the majors.

The Tigers, though, were intrigued enough by Garrett to give him an opportunity to make the team. As a Rule 5 pick, he is required to stay on the active roster — if healthy — for the duration of the regular season. If not, he must offered back to Texas for $50,000, half the $100,000 price the Tigers paid to draft him.

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Rule 5 picks are frequently used on bullpen arms because their usage can be easily manipulated. Last season, Reyes, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 Rule 5 draft, did not see much time in the lineup. A lack of playing time can stunt a player’s development. This season, Reyes will likely play at Triple-A Toledo.

Garrett’s calling card is his fastball: According to multiple scouts, he sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. He throws three secondary pitches: a slider, a split-fingered fastball and a change-up.

One rival talent evaluator, who tabbed him as a player his team wanted, offered these thoughts on Garrett: “I think he will have a hard time sticking because of command. Nice fastball with good velocity and life. Flashes some decent sink at times. Can also get to an average or slightly better breaking ball.”

Garrett walked 2.9 batters per nine innings in the minors in 2018 while striking out 8.9 per nine innings. For comparison, Zack Reininger walked 2.8 and struck out 9.3 per nine innings in Toledo in 2018 before getting called up to the Tigers in September.