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Tigers take power-arm reliever Reed Garrett in Rule 5 draft

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News
Reed Garrett

Chances seemed greater that the Tigers might go for infield help in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft, but they instead went for a right-handed reliever, Reed Garrett, grabbing him from the Rangers with Detroit’s fifth-overall pick as the Winter Meetings wrapped up in Las Vegas.

Garrett, 25, pitched in 51 games at Double A and Triple A in 2018 and had strong combined numbers: 2.04 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, with 61 strikeouts in 61.2 innings, and 20 walks.

He is a power pitcher with a fastball that can run 95-100, with a curveball and slider, as well as a split-finger fourth pitch.

Garrett, who was a starter for much of his minor-league days, last season moved full-time to the bullpen. He was a 16th-round pick by the Rangers in 2014 when he pitched at Virginia Military Academy.

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The Tigers had been viewed as a landing spot for one of the second basemen available early Thursday: Kean Wong, Max Schrock, or Drew Jackson.

But even though all three players were unclaimed, the Tigers decided on a power pitcher who, like all Rule 5 picks, was advanced but had not found a place on his team’s 40-man roster.

The Tigers are obliged to keep Garrett on their 25-man active roster for all of 2019 or must return him to the Rangers for one-half the $100,000 acquisition fee. They can also engineer a trade as a means of keeping him in the system.

As expected, Richie Martin, a shortstop who missed making the A’s 40-man roster, was the first overall pick, taken by the Orioles, who have a gaping hole at short.

Pitchers were taken in the next three slots: Sam McWilliams (Rays) by the Royals, Jordan Romano (Jays) by the White Sox, followed by the Marlins snagging Riley Ferrell (Astros).

The Tigers next snatched Garrett, who is expected to get regular work in the Tigers’ back-end relief corps in 2019.

The Rangers are going young, as well, and with Garrett next month turning 26, Texas concluded there were stronger 40-man roster options.

The Tigers did not lose any players in either the big-league, or Triple A phase, of Thursday’s draft. Andrew Schwaab, a right-handed pitcher who had a 5.87 ERA last season at Erie, was taken by the Red Sox in the Rule 5 Double-A segment.

Twitter @Lynn_Henning