On Wednesday, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said the team would likely select an "upside" player in today's Rule V draft instead of a "safe" pick."
He did just that selecting right-hander Jose Flores from the Cleveland Indians organization with the second pick of the Rule V draft.
Flores is just 21 and is a native of Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela. He played in Class A Lake County of the Midwest League. He made 28 relief appearances, posting a 1-1 record with six saves and a 2.14 ERA (10 runs in 42 innings pitched). He struck 51 hitters and posted a 7.29 strikeout/walk ratio and striking out 31.3% of the batters he faced (51 of 163).
"He's an upside guy," Zduriencik said. "He's got a low- to mid-90s fastball. He's got a good arm, he's aggressive and he throws strikes."
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Indeed, Flores walked just seven batters in those 42 innings pitched.
Director of Amateur scouting Tom McNamara saw Flores pitch twice in person last season when Lake County played Class A Clinton in the playoffs.
"We also called our people down in Venezuela and they had good things to say," Zduriencik said.
But still, a 21-year-old kid that's never pitched above Class A seems like a stretch to make the Mariners team and stay on the 25-man roster all season.
If you aren't familiar with the rules, players chosen in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft must remain in the Major Leagues for the entire 2010 season. If the ML team wishes to option a player back to the minors, the club must first offer him back to his original team for $25,000 (half of the $50,000 claiming fee).
The Mariners did lose one player in the Rule V draft. The Arizona Diamondbacks took OF Jose Rivero, who played for Class A Everett and Class A Pulaski last season. Between the two teams, he hit .272 (66x243) with 7 home runs and 41 RBI in 63 games. Rivero was originally signed by the Mariners