Tigers see three leave in Rule 5 Draft
Bierd taken by O's, club picks up two Triple-A pitchers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tigers closed out their busy week at the Winter Meetings by losing rather than gaining.
In this case, Detroit lost another pitcher from their farm system. Reliever Randor Bierd, who distinguished himself as a standout reliever over the second half at Double-A Erie, is headed to the Baltimore Orioles after being selected with the third overall pick of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
Bierd, a 2003 signing out of the Dominican Republic, jumped from the lower levels of the farm system to join the SeaWolves when they needed relief help. He responded by posting a 3-2 record and 3.35 ERA in 27 appearances, including three spot starts.
It was a breakout season for the 23-year-old right-hander, who had a 6.57 ERA to go with a 5-0 record in short-season Class A Oneonta the previous season.
"He came up and really fit," said Matt Walbeck, Bierd's manager at Erie and now the third-base coach for the Texas Rangers. "Electric fastball, sharp slider. He's a high-energy guy, an emotional guy. He gets really excited at times. Sometimes that works to his advantage and sometimes it's to his detriment. He can get Major League hitters out with his stuff."
Walbeck feels Bierd could help a team out of the bullpen. With the Tigers looking for more experienced arms in the bullpen, however, it wasn't going to be in Detroit. He was left off the 40-man roster at the deadline last month, and though the Tigers had an open spot on it following this week's trade with Marlins, it was too late to protect anyone.
"Bierd was 41 on our list," president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We only had 40 [spots]. He was our bubble guy. We liked him. We had to make a decision."
Though the Tigers had an open spot, they didn't select anyone in the Major League portion of the Draft. At this point, they feel their bullpen is close to set, barring any trades, and they need pitching help in the Minors moreso than in the big leagues.
To that extent, Detroit gained two pitchers and lost two others in the Triple-A portion of the Draft. The Tigers selected left-hander Juan Cedeno from the Washington Nationals organization and righty Benjamin Fritz from Oakland's farm system. Both are viewed as fringe relievers, though Fritz was a starter last season.
Cedeno, 24, went 3-2 with a 6.33 ERA in 35 appearances this past season for Wichita of the Texas League before showing better results in winter ball. He has allowed two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in six appearances so far for Licey in the Dominican League.
"We feel he still has projection, that he can pitch out of the bullpen at some point in the big leagues," assistant general manager Al Avila said.
Fritz, too, had somewhat better success in winter ball than he did during the regular season. After going 11-11 with a 5.67 ERA in 28 starts for Double-A Midland of the Texas League, he went 0-3 with a 4.40 ERA in seven starts for Caracas in the Venezuelan League.
"He's more of a control guy," Avila said.
From a numbers standpoint, the Draft ended up being a wash for the Tigers, who lost two other players in the Triple-A phase. Longtime farmhand Corey Hamman, who split this year between Erie and Toledo en route to a 1-9 record and 4.84 ERA, went to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Jose Fragoso, who spent most of the season at Oneonta with a brief appearance at Class A West Michigan, went to the A's organization.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.