Tigers grab LH reliever Daniel Stumpf in Rule 5 draft

Chris McCosky, The Detroit News
Daniel Stumpf

National Harbor, Md. – The Detroit Tigers won’t go home from the Winter Meetings empty-handed after all.

On Thursday they selected left-handed reliever Daniel Stumpf from Kansas City in the Rule 5 draft.

“We like him,” general manager Al Avila said. “We feel like he has a chance to make our club as one of the left-handed relievers.”

There has been a lot of trade talk surrounding lefty Justin Wilson, but Avila said that had no impact on the selection of Stumpf.

“No, it had nothing to do with Wilson,” Avila said. “We just liked Stumpf. It wouldn’t be bad to have both.”

Rule 5 stipulates that players selected must remain on the club’s active roster for a full season. If not, then they will be returned to their previous team. The selection cost the Tigers $100,000. Half of that would be returned if the Tigers had to send him back to the Royals.

Stumpf, 25, was selected in the Rule 5 draft last season by the Phillies and made their opening day roster. But in April he was suspended for 80 games for using an anabolic steroid.

In seven games with the Phillies, he allowed six runs in five innings. He was returned to the Royals. Pitching in High-A, Double-A and Triple-A last season, Stumpf was 3-0, with a 3.34 ERA in 29.2 innings.

His best pitch is a firmer-than-usual change-up at 86 mph, which he throws off a 92 mph four-seam fastball. He also has a slow, sinking slider.

The Tigers scouted him this winter in the Domincan Winter League, where he is presently 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA (two runs in 10 innings).

He will compete with Wilson, Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan for a spot on the 25-man roster.

No deal for Tigers, but 'winter is not over,' Avila says

The Tigers also made two selections in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft – right-handed pitcher Sean Donatello, 24, who pitched for the Marlins Double-A team last season, and outfielder Elvis Rubio, 22, who was with the Brewers last season.

“Donatello is a nice looking right-hander with a good arm and good breaking ball,” said David Littlefield, Tigers director of player development. “Our scouts who saw him liked him (scout Jimmy Rough). He adds some minor league depth, and we’ll see. He’s got enough pitches to pitch in the big leagues.

“But, obviously, being on a Double-A roster, he’s going to have to make an adjustment.”

He was 3-1 with a 3.40 ERA and seven saves last season.

Rubio has some speed and is a plus defender, but he hasn’t hit much in six minor league seasons (.216, .560 OPS last year in Class A).

“You are always looking for a little bit more, here and there,” Littlefield said. “You kind of hold your breath hoping you don’t lose somebody you like, too. It turned out well.”

The Tigers lost two players in the minor league draft: Double-A pitcher Edward Paredes and Class A catcher Mario Sanjur.

Twitter @cmccosky