A new face and a long-awaited friend have joined the Mariners 40-man roster in the past ~24 hours, and this is the point at which we could no longer evade discussing them. RHP Ruben Alaniz has been signed to what appears to be a major league minimum contract, and as a player with minor league options remaining, he will likely come into camp competing for a bullpen spot in Seattle or begin in Tacoma. OF Braden Bishop, by contrast, has grown up in the Mariners organization, and would’ve made his way to Tacoma last season were it not for a wayward fastball hitting his hand and concluding his year prematurely.
Alaniz is an unlikely player to have a case of any sort for an MLB roster, having gone undrafted in 2009 before being signed by the Houston Astros. Many UDFA’s come from the college ranks, but Alaniz signed right out of high school after his senior season was canceled due to an **pulls crank on 2009 school-cancellation gashapon explanation machine** outbreak of swine flu near McAllen, TX, where Alaniz hails from. Now 27, Alaniz has transitioned from starter to reliever and is entering his fourth organization. After reaching minor league free agency with the Astros, Alaniz signed minor league deals with the Tigers and Rays, reaching as high as AAA with both. Alaniz has refined a mid-90s fastball and additionally brings a changeup and curveball as well. His high strikeout rates aren’t a guarantee of success, but despite a number of minor calf injuries last year, Alaniz is a good addition to The Pile.
Braden Bishop is the more familiar face, and his arrival is heartening for both baseball and personal reasons. For the soul, Bishop’s dedication to charity has been well-documented, and heartily encouraged and adopted by both his teammates and the organization as a whole. On the field, Bishop fits the needs of the Mariners in the present and future, although the arrival of Mallex Smith muddles that somewhat. Bishop is a superlative defender and a plus baserunner, with an offensive profile that was long the question mark for scouts. After making an adjustment to his swing a couple years ago, Bishop has sparked his career positively. He would have been eligible for the Rule-5 draft this season, so while Bishop may begin the season in AAA, he’ll now do so in the Mariners organization. Probably. The Mariners 40-man roster now stands at 34 players.