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Scouting reports for 2017 Rule 5 Draft picks

December 14, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though pitchers dominated the Rule 5 Draft, accounting for 15 of the 18 picks in the Major League phase, the Tigers began things by spending the No. 1 overall choice on an outfielder.Detroit plucked Victor Reyes from Arizona and plans to give him playing time

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though pitchers dominated the Rule 5 Draft, accounting for 15 of the 18 picks in the Major League phase, the Tigers began things by spending the No. 1 overall choice on an outfielder.
Detroit plucked Victor Reyes from Arizona and plans to give him playing time at all three outfield spots in 2018. He originally signed with the Braves for $365,000 out of Venezuela in 2011 and went to the D-backs in a trade for a supplemental second-round pick in 2015.
:: Rule 5 Draft coverage ::
Reyes spent last season in Double-A, batting .292/.332/.399 with 18 stolen bases in 126 games at age 22. He also played in the Arizona Fall League, which he led with 12 steals in 20 games while batting .316/.333/.405.
Reyes' best tool is his solid speed, which plays better on the bases than it does in the outfield, where he has an average arm. He's a switch-hitter who makes consistent line-drive contact, though he offers little power and walks infrequently. Reyes profiles more as a fourth outfielder than as a regular.
In order to retain Reyes, Detroit must keep him on its active big league roster throughout the 2018 season. Before the Tigers could send him to the Minors, he'd have to clear waivers and then get offered back to Arizona for half of his $100,000 Draft price. Injured Rule 5 Draft players may be stashed on a club's disabled list, though they face the restrictions governing Minor League assignments until they total 90 days on the active roster.
Here are scouting reports on the other 17 players taken in the Major League phase:
Julian Fernandez, RHP, Giants (from Rockies)
Fernandez is one of the hardest throwers in the Minor Leagues, reaching 102 mph with his fastball, though he lacks a reliable secondary pitch and doesn't have much of a history of throwing strikes. He had a 3.26 ERA and 57/18 K-BB ratio in 58 relief innings in low Class A.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Pirates (via Phillies from Twins)
Another flamethrower, Burdi also has a fastball that reaches triple digits and pairs it with a hard slider. The 2014 second-rounder from Louisville posted a 0.53 ERA and a 20/4 K/BB ratio in 17 Double-A relief innings before succumbing to Tommy John surgery this summer.

Carlos Tocci, OF, Rangers (via White Sox from Phillies)
Tocci was one of the top players on the international amateur market in 2011, garnering a $759,000 bonus out of Venezuela, and he offers solid bat-on-ball skills, speed and outfield defense. But he has been unable to add enough strength to make much of an impact offensively, batting .294/.346/.381 with three homers and four steals in 130 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Brad Keller, RHP, Royals (via Reds from D-backs)
Keller works mainly off a low-90s sinker and must locate his pitches well to succeed. He went 10-9 with a 4.68 ERA in 26 Double-A starts while fanning 111 in 130 2/3 innings.
Burch Smith, RHP, Royals (via Mets from Rays)
One of the better Rule 5 Draft bets to stick with his new club, Smith can sit in the mid-90s with his fastball and also miss bats with his curveball and changeup. After missing 2015 and '16 following Tommy John surgery, he recorded a 2.40 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings at three levels (mostly in high Class A).

Anyelo Gomez, RHP, Braves (from Yankees)
The Yankees faced a roster crunch, which led them not to protect Gomez despite him working in the upper 90s while also showcasing a nifty changeup. A reliever, he had a 1.92 ERA and 87/21 K/BB ratio in 70 1/3 innings while rising from low Class A to Triple-A.
Jordan Milbrath, RHP, Pirates (from Indians)
Milbrath runs his fastball into the upper 90s with life and backs it up with a cutter. He posted a 3.02 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 56 2/3 relief innings between high Class A and Double-A.
Nestor Cortes, LHP, Orioles (from Yankees)
A finesse left-hander who lacks a plus pitch but mixes his offerings well and fills the strike zone, Cortes has a career 2.08 ERA in five pro seasons. He went 7-4 with a 2.06 ERA in 30 games (13 starts) from high Class A to Triple-A in 2017, recording a 105/32 K/BB ratio in 104 2/3 innings.

Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Marlins (from Astros)
Hernandez has a similar profile to Cortes, with his polish standing out more than his average stuff. He went 5-5 with a 3.68 ERA in 18 games (13 starts), mostly in high Class A, with an 88/22 K/BB ratio in 73 1/3 innings.
Mike Ford, 1B, Mariners (from Yankees)
Power is Ford's carrying tool and he tied for the lead among Yankees farmhands with 20 homers and 94 walks in 2017. He batted .270/.404/.471 in 126 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
Luke Bard, RHP, Angels (from Twins)
A supplemental first-round pick from Georgia Tech in 2012 and the younger brother of former big leaguer Daniel Bard, Luke has a mid-90s fastball and a hard if inconsistent slider. He had a 2.76 ERA with 99 strikeouts in 65 1/3 relief innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

Tyler Kinley, RHP, Twins (from Marlins)
Yet another reliever on this list who can tickle triple digits with his fastball, Kinley ran into control problems when he reached Double-A this summer. He posted a 3.54 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 53 1/3 relief innings between high Class A and Double-A.
Albert Suarez, RHP, D-backs (from Giants)
Suarez has spent parts of the past two seasons in San Francisco, going 3-8 with a 4.51 ERA in 40 games (12 starts) while whiffing 88 in 115 2/3 innings. He has a low-90s fastball and relies heavily on his secondary pitches: slider (his best offering), curveball and changeup.
Anthony Gose, LHP, Astros (from Rangers)
The most intriguing of the Rule 5 Draft choices, Gose was a 2008 second-rounder from a California high school by the Phillies and spent 2012-16 in the big leagues with the Blue Jays and Tigers -- as an outfielder. Long renowned for his cannon arm, he moved to the mound in high Class A this year and immediately showed an upper-90s fastball. He also was extremely raw and worked just 10 2/3 innings before getting shut down with a sore elbow.

Pedro Araujo, RHP, Orioles (from Cubs)
Araujo's primary weapon is a 91-95 mph fastball, which he complements with a slider and changeup. He recorded 10 saves, a 1.76 ERA and an 87/18 K/BB ratio in 66 2/3 innings, mostly in high Class A.
Brett Graves, RHP, Marlins (from Athletics)
With a 92-97 mph fastball, a hard cutter/slider and strike-throwing ability, Graves can profile as a starter or a reliver. He went 1-1 with a 4.47 ERA in 14 games (10 starts) between high Class A and Double-A, posting a 57/13 K/BB ratio in 56 1/3 innings.
Jose Mesa Jr., RHP, Orioles (from Yankees)
The son of former All-Star Jose Mesa, Jose Jr. has a 92-95 mph fastball that ranks as his best offering in a four-pitch mix. He went 5-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 29 games (eight starts) between high Class A and Double-A, striking out 101 in 84 innings.

Jim Callis is a reporter for Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.