Tigers win one, lose one in Rule 5

Tigers win one, lose one in Rule 5

LAS VEGAS -- A scouting trip to Hawaii for Tigers special assistant Dick Egan led to a potential piece of help for Detroit's bullpen. The Tigers closed out their busy Winter Meetings on Thursday by selecting left-hander Kyle Bloom from the Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft.

The Tigers ended up losing a catching prospect when James Skelton went to the Diamondbacks. But given their pitching situation, Bloom was a reason for optimism.

Bloom, a former fifth-round Draft pick out of Illinois State, was primarily a starter over his five-year career in Pittsburgh's farm system, with mixed results. The 25-year-old went 5-8 with a 4.19 ERA at Double-A Altoona this past season, allowing 103 hits over 109 2/3 innings with 55 walks and 93 strikeouts.

However, it was his impressive campaign in the Hawaiian Winter League that caught the Tigers' attention. Working shorter starts, he dominated hitters, scattering 15 hits over 30 innings with 11 walks, 32 strikeouts and a .144 opposing batting average.

Egan was in Hawaii on another scouting assignment when he saw Bloom, according to Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski.

"If he throws the way he threw for [Egan], I think he'll be interesting and have a chance to make our ballclub," Dombrowski said.

Bloom's strength is a curveball with good movement to complement his fastball and changeup. The curve could be a big piece toward a potential spot in the Tigers' bullpen, though Dombrowski said the Tigers could look at Bloom as a starter in the spring.

Major League teams can draft any eligible player -- usually with at least four Minor League seasons for college products, five seasons for high school draftees -- for the cost of $50,000. Once selected, that player must stay on the Major League roster for the entire season. If the team tries to take the player off their roster, they must offer him back to his former club for $25,000.

"Detroit made a good selection," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "He's left-handed. He has a little bit of arm strength. Being selected and sticking through the end of a Major League season, though, is a very different thing."

That's a question that will face the Arizona Diamondbacks with Skelton, who was somewhat of a surprise when he wasn't added to Detroit's 40-man roster last month. While questions about his size followed him throughout his trip up the Tigers' developmental ladder, the Diamondbacks decided the performance warranted a look.

The 23-year-old Skelton followed up an impressive Spring Training as a non-roster invitee with a relatively solid season between Class A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. He batted .307 with eight doubles, three home runs, 23 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 63 games with the Flying Tigers before being promoted to Erie, where he hit .294 over 24 games with two homers and 11 RBIs.

Behind the plate, Skelton's strong arm belied his listed 5-foot-11, 160-pound frame. He threw out 19 of 54 potential basestealers at Lakeland before going 9-for-19 with Erie.

When the deadline came to set the 40-man roster, however, the Tigers left it at 38, leaving two open spots for potential moves and Skelton off. He would likely be a third catcher if he makes the Arizona roster.

"We just don't think he's ready to play in the big leagues," Dombrowski said.

Bloom's addition pushes Detroit's roster to 39 players, pending the announcement of Adam Everett's one-year contract. That leaves one roster spot available in case the Tigers have another signing in the next day or two, though Dombrowski said he wasn't close on any move.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.