Mariners take Indians’ Class-A reliever in Rule 5 draft

Jose Flores, a 21-year-old relief pitcher in the Cleveland Indians’ farm system, was selected by the Mariners with the second pick in Thursday’s Major League portion of the Rule 5 draft.

Flores, who pitched in Single-A ball for the Lake County Captains in the Midwest League, now must remain with the Mariners for the entire 2011 season or be offered back to the Indians for $25,000.

The Venezuelan-born reliever was 1-1 with six saves and a 2.14 ERA in 42 innings last year for Lake County, striking out 51 while walking just seven. He held opponents to a .224 batting average.

Flores originally signed with the Indians as an undrafted free agent in 2005. He’s posted a 3.92 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 156 innings in four seasons in Cleveland’s system.
A year ago, the Mariners picked up reliever Kanekoa Texeira from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft and he made the team out of Spring Training, but was designated for assignment after two months with Seattle and wound up getting claimed off waivers by Kansas City.
The selection now puts the Mariners’ 40-man roster at a full 40, so someone will have to be moved to create space for the expected signing of free-agent designated hitter Jack Cust once he passes a physical and his agreement is made official.
The Rule 5 draft is the final part of the Winter Meetings. The Mariners’ officials will return home Thursday evening.

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