Flores A Long Shot For Mariners

SEATTLE — The Mariners know they are asking a lot of righthander Jose Flores.
All the same, they believe there is enough lightning in Flores' right arm to make the gamble worth it.

Seattle plucked Flores from the Indians in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. The Venezuelan has an impressive fastball with decent control, but spent the 2010 season in low Class A. The number of Class A Rule 5 players who successfully make the jump to the major leagues is small.

"Not too many kids have made this leap," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "It's a good challenge for him and a $25,000 gamble for us. He's got a good arm and he's a strike thrower who can reach 95. It's worth it."

Seattle manager Eric Wedge, who was in Cleveland through 2009, knows Flores a bit.

"He's a young pitcher with a great arm," Wedge said. "I like his stuff. And I like the competition having a Rule 5 player on the roster brings. It will push everybody."

The 21-year-old Flores played in 2010 for low Class A Lake County, where he made 28 relief appearances. He went 1-1, 2.14 with six saves, 51 strikeouts and seven walks over 42 innings.

"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."

That last bit is what gives the Mariners hope that he can show well enough to stick on the Seattle roster all season long. Flores walked just seven in his 42 innings pitched.

Mariners' scouting director Tom McNamara saw Flores pitch twice when Lake County played the Mariners' Midwest League affiliate, Clinton, in the 2010 playoffs.

"He liked him a lot," Zduriencik said. "We also called our people down in Venezuela and they had good things to say."


• The Mariners lost one player in the Rule 5 draft when the Diamondbacks took outfielder Jose Rivero. He split 2010 between Everett and Pulaski, and between the two hit .272/.335/.428 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs in 63 games. He was taken in the Double-A portion of the draft.

• Righthander Denny Bautista, catcher Chris Gimenez, outfielder Ryan Langerhans and lefthander Royce Ring signed minor league deals with the club with an invitation to spring training.