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Tigers move to protect quartet of young arms, including Matt Manning, Alex Faedo

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – The Tigers on Friday placed four young pitchers on the 40-man roster, effectively protecting them from being taken by another organization in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 10.

Right-handers Matt Manning (the No. 3-ranked prospect in the system), Alex Faedo (No. 10) and Alex Lange (unranked), and left-hander Joey Wentz (No. 9) – all former first-round draft picks – were selected.

There was little doubt about the Tigers protecting Manning, rated the 20th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com, and Faedo. They were the Tigers’ first-round picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and are expected to make their big-league debuts in 2021.

Alex Faedo

Wentz, who came to the Tigers from Atlanta in the Shane Greene trade, was a question mark only because he underwent Tommy John surgery in March and probably won’t pitch until the end of the 2021 season.

But, he’s just 22, and dominated Double-A hitters after he got to Erie in 2019. At 6-foot-5, he throws his 92-94 mph fastball downhill and has an elite change-up. The Tigers wisely didn’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft.

The fourth open spot on the roster, created Thursday when utility man Brandon Dixon announced he was going to play in Japan in 2021, was up for debate. With the No. 2-ranked farm system in baseball (MLB.com), the Tigers have more protectable players than open roster spots.

Players like No. 16-ranked prospect infielder Wenceel Perez, catcher-utility man Brady Policelli, pitchers Logan Shore, Jason Foley, Will Vest and Nolan Blackwood were all under consideration.

But Lange, the former LSU standout the Tigers acquired from the Cubs in the Nick Castellanos trade, is probably the closest to big-league ready, especially since he’s transitioned to the bullpen. The Tigers got a good look at him toward the end of the summer at the alternate site in Toledo. His fastball is playing up (93-94 mph) and helping to set up his slider and change-up.  

By no means are the Tigers done manipulating the roster. They can still create openings on the 40-man roster to facilitate a Rule 5 pick of their own or if and when they sign free agents.

Here are the Tigers prospects left unprotected and eligible to be taken in the Rule 5 draft:

Rule 5-eligible

STARTING PITCHERS: Logan Shore, Elvin Rodriquez, Carlos Guzman, Brad Bass, Dane Myers, Wilkel Hernandez, Jack O’Loughlin.

RELIEF PITCHERS: Nolan Blackwood, Jason Foley, Vill Vest, Zac Houston, Joe Navilhon, Drew Carlton, Angel DeJesus, Billy Lescher, Ruben Garcia, Sandel De La Cruz.

CATCHERS: Brady Policelli, Joey Morgan, Eliezor Alfonso.

INFIELDERS: Reynaldo Rivera, Jose King, Daniel Pinero, Cole Peterson, Wenceel Perez.

OUTFIELDERS: Jacob Robson, Danny Woodrow, Chad Sedio, Ulrich Bojarski.

Twitter @cmccosky