Akil Baddoo hasn’t played a game above Class A ball, and he hasn’t played a formal game at any level since spring of 2019. But the Tigers’ Rule 5 Draft pick from last week is already fitting in with Detroit’s roster.
The former Twins outfield prospect said he has been
The former Twins outfield prospect said he has been working out with fellow ex-Twin-turned-Tiger Niko Goodrum, who lives in the same area near Atlanta. They work out at the same facility, but Baddoo has also worked out in the batting cage and gym Goodrum built in his garage.
“It’s dope. He hooked that place up,” Baddoo said with a laugh. “I can’t lie. It’s definitely nice.”
Baddoo said he has also been playing Call of Duty with Goodrum and fellow Tigers outfielders JaCoby Jones and Christin Stewart. All of them are avid gamers, and Goodrum represented the Tigers in the MLB The Show Players League while baseball was shut down last spring.
How Baddoo handles Major League pitching next year remains to be seen, and will obviously be a bigger key to whether he can stick on the roster the entire season and continue his development from there in the Tigers organization. It’s a huge leap, bigger than any Tigers Rule 5 pick has successfully made since lefty Wil Ledezma jumped from Class A ball to Detroit’s bullpen in 2003 and began a nine-year Major League career. But Baddoo at least has introductions out of the way.
The Tigers’ pick of Baddoo was a bit of a surprise. They scouted him in high school leading into the MLB Draft in 2016 before the Twins took him in the second round and signed him away from a commitment to play at the University of Kentucky. Still, Detroit seemed more likely to take a pitcher in the Rule 5 last week to help cover innings as teams ramp up from a 60-game season to hopefully a 162-game version.
But the Tigers love Baddoo’s athleticism — he played baseball, football, basketball and volleyball in high school — and his instincts, including a good eye at the plate that helped draw 74 walks in 113 games at Class A Cedar Rapids in 2018 to go with 22 doubles, 11 triples, 11 home runs, 24 stolen bases and a .770 OPS. A left-handed hitter and thrower, he’s ranked as Detroit’s No. 25 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
Baddoo played just 29 games at Class A Advanced Fort Myers the following spring before a torn elbow ligament led to Tommy John surgery. The lost Minor League season this summer was more like extended rehab for him.
“It was definitely a lot of rehab and a lot of lifting, getting after it, just making sure my body is in ultimate shape and ready to go for next season,” he said.
He didn’t bulk up much; he said his weight is up to 213 pounds after being listed at 210 pounds going into the year. But he gained muscle strength along with flexibility, the latter from a newfound appreciation of yoga.
“It’s definitely something new,” he said. “I did it every once in a while, but this is my first year actually doing it on a consistent basis. So it feels amazing. I suggest everyone do it, honestly. Definitely a part of my routine going forward.”
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) July 26, 2018
Baddoo finally returned to baseball action this fall at the Twins’ instructional camp in Fort Myers. When Minnesota left him off its 40-man roster, the Tigers took a chance in hopes of adding another athletic outfielder with the ability to cover the vast outfield territory of Comerica Park.
Whether he can make the leap to the big leagues, Baddoo — whose name comes from his father’s family roots in Ghana — is anxious to try.
“I’m just waiting. I’m excited to display all my tools, and just controlling what I can control,” Baddoo said. “I’m going to do whatever I can do in the offseason to prepare me for that and see where it takes me from there. I feel really confident, and I’m looking forward to getting started with the Detroit Tigers and help them win some games.”