The Double-A game was being played on the next field over, and I wandered over and saw that Chance Ruffin not only started the game, but he pitched at least four innings.
I asked some questions and it turns out it is true: Ruffin, who has been a short-reliever since his junior year of college, is being moved into the starting rotation for 2013. It is possible that he will be going to Double-A Jackson in order to make the conversion.
Ruffin has not been a starter since his sophomore year of college, at the University of Texas. I like this idea: Ruffin had a few outings with Tacoma last season where he threw over 40 pitches, and he was able to maintain his low-90s velocity in those games. If he can do that for 100 pitches, and improve his complimentary pitches a bit, he’s got a shot at making this work.
Chance Ruffin was acquired from the Detroit Tigers as part of the Doug Fister trade, pitched 14 innings that featured a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks, then kind of disappeared. He didn't make the Mariners out of Spring Training last season before spending the entire season in AAA.
(Ed. note: Center portion of this post deleted as suggestions and conclusions were based upon a bad calculation that initially went unnoticed. Whoops.)
What does this mean?
Not much, but it's a move with potential to pay off for the Mariners. Seattle hasn't exactly been starved for bullpen help and Ruffin lacked setup/closer upside. What he did have was four pitches (two of them needing serious work), so why not give this a shot? Ruffin still has all the time in the world at just 24 years old, and if he emerges as a number five starter he'll provide considerably more value than he would have as a middle reliever.