Akil Baddoo was a breakout star in 2021 as a rookie for the Detroit Tigers. He made sure his presence was felt the very first time he swung a bat at the major league level. An opposite-field Home Run was the first hit of the young outfielder’s career. What made it even more impressive is he was just 22 years old. Baddoo was drafted that off-season in the Rule 5 draft and had to earn a spot on the roster via Spring Training. For those of you who may not understand the Rule 5 draft, I’ll go in-depth about it for a moment.
What makes you eligible for the Rule 5 draft?
For any pro who signed their initial contract as an 18-year-old or younger, that player becomes eligible for the Rule 5 draft after their fifth professional season. Any player who initially signed at 19 or older is eligible after their fourth professional season.
What happens when a player is selected in the Rule 5 draft?
A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $50,000 to the team from which he was selected. The receiving team must then keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster for the entirety of the next season, and the selected player must remain active (not on the disabled list) for a minimum of 90 days. If the player does not remain on the Major League roster, he is offered back to the team he was selected from for $25,000. If his original team declines, the receiving team may waive the player. Once a player is selected, he is automatically assigned to his new organization’s 40-man roster… This is why I love the Rule 5 draft, it’s very unique, and the player could be returned to the team you “stole” him from if you don’t want him after a while. It gives the players who are eligible a great opportunity.
Can players drafted in the Rule 5 draft be traded?
Teams may trade a player selected in the Rule 5 Draft, but the same rules regarding roster placement apply to the player’s new team.
What orders do teams draft in?
Teams draft in reverse order of the regular season standings. Any team that does not have any vacancies on its 40-man roster may not make a selection.
Are there different phases to the Rule 5 draft?
Yes. There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 Draft. Players put on the Triple-A reserve list cost the selecting team $12,000, and players put on the Double-A reserve list cost the selecting team $4,000.
Who are the most successful players to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft?
Roberto Clemente, Hack Wilson, who made his debut 100 years ago this season, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Pressly, Nestor Cortes, and Joakim Soria, just to name a few. I decided to throw some older and newer players in there that will give you an idea of how important the Rule 5 draft can be…
Back to Akil Baddoo. After bursting onto the scene in his MLB debut, Baddoo didn’t slow down. He continued to dominate the month of April. After hitting a Home Run on the first swing he took in his debut on opening day, he followed it up with a Grand Slam the very next day in a 16-5 loss to Minnesota. Yep, he hit a Grand Slam in the first game vs. his former team, who, amazingly, could have gotten him back if things didn’t work out in Detroit. Thankfully, for the Tigers, it did work out. He continued to hit the ball well until May. Baddoo found himself in a bit of a slump. His only Home Run in May of 2021 came on the last day of the month vs. the Brewers. After 2021, Baddoo finished his rookie season with a .259 batting average, 13 Home Runs, 40 extra-base hits, 55 RBI, an OBP of .330, SLG% of .436, and an OPS of .766. Baddoo showcased his speed by stealing 18 bases in 2021. He was the starting Tigers center fielder before Riley Greene entered the big leagues midway through the following season. Baddoo’s impressive rookie campaign was a big part of Detroit having one of their most successful seasons in the past few years prior. Unfortunately, part of why we were good in 2021 and not 2022 was the fact that our players, whom we didn’t expect much from, all peaked at once. They returned to playing the type of baseball we expected from them prior to 2021 in the 2022 season. Baddoo is a player that falls in that category as well. 2022 was a big letdown season for Baddoo. We may have expected a little too much out of him as he was still only 23 years old… but at the same time, I sure didn’t expect him to regress as much as he did in ’22. Baddoo hit just 2 Home Runs, had a .204 batting average, hit seven extra-base hits, had nine RBI, an OBP of .289, SLG% of .269, an OPS of .558, and stole 9 bases… I know what you’re thinking… That’s about as bad as it gets for someone you expected to be a regular starter. You are also probably wondering why I’m still excited about this player… Well, he’s just 24 years of age and has plenty of time to develop.
Why Akil Baddoo will be a valuable/impactful player for Detroit in 2023
Akil Baddoo does not need to hit a bunch of Home Runs to be a really good player for the Tigers. Simply getting on base more often would make Baddoo a very valuable asset to the team. It may sound like I’m speaking the obvious, but with his speed, as long as he’s getting on the base paths, he will be a problem for opposing teams. His power numbers do not need to improve drastically for me to consider him a great ball player for the team. If he can find a spot in the lineup where he can play often, that’s great. Baddoo will be a great bench player when he’s not in the lineup, too, though. The new rules will be in Baddoo’s favor. That’s not a prediction; in my opinion, that is a fact. We could easily see Akil Baddoo swipe 20+ bags in 2023. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets close to 30 bases stolen if he can be productive at the plate. Detroit is a team that must be aggressive on the bases to succeed. We need to take every opportunity possible to put runners in scoring position, and Baddoo can help do just that with his speed. We are going to see a lot of stolen bases across major league baseball this season with the rule changes made by the MLB. Pitchers will now only be able to throw over to check on the runner twice. If he decides to do it a third time, then it will result in a balk if he doesn’t get the runner out. We’ve already seen managers taking advantage of this early in camp. Baddoo stole two bases Monday night vs. the New York Yankees. We’re going to see big numbers put up by the speedsters in the league, and Baddoo will benefit from these changes massively. If he can stay on the Tigers roster all year long, he’ll have a great chance to appear in almost every game. Even if he doesn’t start, we should see him in a pinch-run situation many times this season. That’s where I see Baddoo being most impactful, but I fully expect his power numbers to rise back up in 2023 as well. There is a couple of reasons I could see this happening. One thing is, he’s entering his 3rd season, so he’ll have more experience under his belt. Another thing (and the biggest reason I believe we’ll see him showcase his power more this year) is the changes to Comerica Park. More Home Runs will be hit at Comerica this season. I wouldn’t be surprised if Baddoo is able to surpass his career high in Homers, which was set in 2021 when he hit 13. I’m hopeful that he’s able to find consistency this season which is what he lacks the most. If he can be the player he was in April of 2021 and be that kind of player more often, that makes the Tigers a much more dangerous team. A lot of things have to go right for the Tigers to get back to the position they were back in 2021, but Baddoo finding his rookie season magic again would go a long way. Baddoo is having a very good spring so far, maybe I’m just an overly optimistic fan, but I feel like significant improvement is coming from Akil Baddoo in 2023.
How do you guys feel Baddoo will perform in 2023? Feel free to comment with your thoughts below. Thanks for the read!