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."
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