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Akil Baddoo Comes Through To Help Tigers Win In Extra Innings

Akil Baddoo is a Rule 5 draft pick. He was first drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 2nd round of the 2016 amateur draft at the age of 17. On December 10th, 2020 he was then picked up by the Detroit Tigers from the Minnesota Twins in the 2020 Rule 5 draft when the Twins chose not to add him to the 40-man roster.

“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.”

So that must assume that the 2016 season through the end of the 2020 season, was the five year timeline the Twins had Baddoo without worrying about making a decision whether to put him on their 40-man roster. Players can’t be called up to the Majors without being placed on the 40-man roster. For some teams this can be a hard decision because of the amount of players they might have at a certain position. Teams with extra outfielders may be less apt to protect a player that they consider to be on the fringes of being a Major League asset.

Since there was not a 2020 minor league season due to Covid-19, teams weren’t able to see their players perform outside of alternate sites with expanded 60-man player pools. When looking up a young prospect on baseball-reference.com, you won’t see any statistical data for the 2020 minor league season. For example, Riley Greene only has 2019 statistics on his player page. Spencer Torkelson only has his college statistics for the 2020 season.

One way that teams collect data on their players is through Trackman technology. “TrackMan Baseball is used for player evaluation and development by all major league and minor league teams in the US, majority of teams in Japan and Korea, and top NCAA D1 programs.”

In December 2019, “major league teams voted to institute new amateur data sharing rules that discontinued the practice of clubs enjoying proprietary amateur player data generated from games played at club facilities and some junior colleges.

With all of that being said, the Twins decided not to protect Akil Baddoo, and the Tigers selected him with the 3rd pick in the Rule 5 draft. According to MLB.com, Baddoo was the 13th overall prospect in the Twins organization at the end of 2020. With the pick, the Tigers had to pay $100,000 to the Twins. “Rule 5 Draft picks are assigned directly to the drafting club’s 26-man roster and must be placed on outright waivers in order to be removed from the 26-man roster in the subsequent season.”

The Tigers had a crowded outfield in Spring Training. Robbie Grossman, Nomar Mazara, JaCoby Jones and Victor Reyes (another former Rule 5 pick) were set for the Opening Day roster. Meanwhile, Christin Stewart, Daz Cameron and Derek Hill were trying to impress to make it as well. With Akil Baddoo having a slash line of .325/.460/.750 in 50 plate appearances along with 5 HR’s and 11 RBI’s in Spring Training, the Tigers had to make the difficult decision of keeping him on the 26-man roster or placing him on waivers.

By designating Christin Stewart for assignment, they kept Baddoo on the Opening Day roster and selected the contract of Derek Holland. There is no doubt that having a 26-man roster instead of the usual 25 helps teams who select Rule 5 players.

Before this season, Baddoo had only reached High-A level. We can only guess as to what level he would have been at in 2020. In 4 minor league seasons, Baddoo slashed .249/.357/.422 in 1,018 plate appearances along with 21 HR’s and 93 RBI’s.

You can’t blame the Twins for not placing him on their 40-man roster when you look at those numbers, so it would be interesting to see what data the Tigers had when they picked him. The Twins have a lot of outfielders so it would have been difficult for him to make that ballclub.

On To The Show:

On April 4th, he sent the first MLB pitch he saw over the left-field fence. The Tigers lost 9-3 to Cleveland, but Baddoo was a bright spot.

Then he hit a ninth-inning grand slam in a 15-6 loss to the Twins on April 5th.

Baddoo became the first player in Tigers history with home runs in his first two Major League games, and the first Major League player since Willson Contreras to hit a homerun on his first big league pitch.

He also became the first player in MLB history to hit a home run out of the 9th spot in each of his first two MLB games.

He was not done. On April 6th, his 10th-inning walk-off single drove in Harold Castro after Robbie Grossman was intentionally walked and Detroit won the game, 4-3. Akil Baddoo beat his old organization.

This is the first time a Tiger had a walk-off hit within his first three Major League games since Gabe Alvarez singled off Cubs reliever Dave Stevens on June 24, 1998. “Baddoo is the first MLB player since at least 1900 with two homers, including a grand slam, and a walk-off hit in his first three games”, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

I would say that this reminds me of Chris Shelton and his hot start opening the 2006 season, but the difference is the Tigers are not winning games like they did in 2006. Other than the walk-off win against the Twins, the Tigers have lost each game Akil Baddoo has appeared in.

Watch Akil Baddoo hit his first MLB triple:

Watch Akil Baddoo throw out Andrelton Simmons at 2nd base for his first career assist:

Just for good measure, watch Akil Baddoo steal his first base:

Hopefully, Akil Baddoo is not through!

Akil Baddoo drives in the winning run
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 6: Akil Baddoo #60 of the Detroit Tigers singles to drive in Harold Castro to defeat the Minnesota Twins 4-3 in the 10th inning at Comerica Park on April 6, 2021, in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Sources:

Cooper, J.J. “Explaining The Rule 5 Draft“. baseballamerica.com. Retrieved April 9, 2021.

Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel. “MLB Outlaws Amateur TrackMan Data Exclusivity“. fangraphs.com. Retrieved April 9, 2021.

Beck, Jason. “Walk-off! Baddoo adds to growing legend“. mlb.com. Retrieved April 9, 2021.

TrackMan Baseball. “For Those Who Know How To Practice Like a Pro“. trackmanbaseball.com. Retrieved April 9, 2021.

MLB.com. “40-man deadline: Which prospects made it?” Retrieved April 9, 2021

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