Makeover continues as Ruffin added to bullpen

The Mariners youth movement continued Wednesday as general manager Jack Zduriencik capped off his trade of Doug Fister and David Pauley to the Tigers by announcing the addition of young reliever Chance Ruffin as the “player to be named later” in that deal.

Ruffin, 22, will join the Mariners immediately and be available in the bullpen tonight against Toronto. To make room, the Mariners designated left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey for assignment.

That means Ruffin will join fellow rookies Josh Lueke, Dan Cortes and Tom Wilhelmsen in an increasingly youthful bullpen on an increasingly young team.

Ruffin was drafted last year by Detroit as a first-round sandwich pick – the 48th selection overall – and appeared in two games for the Tigers earlier this season.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Texan has 19 saves and a 2.03 ERA in 44 games this season in Double-A Erie and Triple-A Toledo in the Tigers’ farm system.

Seattle previously received outfielder Casper Wells and right-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, both of whom are playing for the Mariners, as well as Double-A third base prospect Francisco Martinez.

At the time of the trade, Zduriencik said the club would also receive a “significant” player to be named later, with that player turning out to be the well-regarded Ruffin. Because players can’t be traded within the first year of signing their initial pro contract, Ruffin couldn’t be included in the deal until now.

He’s been pitching most recently in Toledo, posting a 1.84 ERA with nine saves in 13 appearances with 17 strikeouts and six walks in 14 2/3 innings.

Ruffin struck out 43 batters in 34 innings in Erie with a 2.12 ERA and 3-3 record in 31 games.

He pitched in two games for the Tigers in late July, with a 4.91 ER in 3 2/3 innings. The rookie allowed two solo home runs in a 1 2/3-inning debut at the White Sox, but bounced back three days later with two scoreless frames – giving up two hits and striking out two – against the Angels.

Ruffin was a standout starter at Texas before converting to a closer his junior year. His father, Bruce Ruffin, pitched for 11 years in the Major Leagues for the Phillies, Brewers and Rockies from 1987-97.

Though the Mariners didn’t like parting with Fister with three years of club control remaining, the trade appears to be paying dividends for Seattle already. Wells and Furbush have already fit in well at the Major League level and now Ruffin joins the big-league club as well.

Wells has hit home runs in four straight games going into Wednesday’s series finale with Toronto and is batting .341 (15-for-44) with 12 RBIs in 12 games for the Mariners. Furbush is 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in four appearances for Seattle and is coming off seven innings of one-run ball in his last start against the Red Sox.

Martinez, 20, has hit .276 in 15 games for Double-A Jackson with one home run and 11 RBIs. He’s a well-regarded prospect who many felt was the key to the trade and remains one of the youngest players in Double-A this season.

1 Comment

We put up a very early look at the returns on the Fister trade over at Seattle Sports Central:

http://seattlesportscentral.com/2011/08/16/an-early-look-back-at-the-doug-fister-trade/

It is looking up so far, but after Wells cools off will be a better test. Ruffin’s value depends on how far away the Mariners are from being competitive. Given that he is cheap, he can be a useful bullpen piece. However, if the front office looks at this team and decides it is still another few years away, I would not be surprised to see him flipped again after he proves himself in the majors.

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