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Mariners OF Taylor Trammell
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Mariners protect OF Taylor Trammell, 3 RHP prospects from Rule 5 Draft

The Mariners acquired highly-regarded prospect Taylor Trammell from San Diego this year. (Getty)

With the MLB Rule 5 Draft set for Dec. 10, the Mariners had a few decisions to make on Friday regarding whether they were going to add a handful of young prospects to the team’s 40-man roster to protect them from the upcoming draft.

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The Mariners did just that with four players, adding outfielder Taylor Trammell and right-handed pitchers Juan Then, Sam Delaplane and Wyatt Mills to the 40-man roster Friday afternoon. That leaves Seattle’s 40-man roster with just one open spot.

The way the Rule 5 Draft works is players who sign with their teams before they turn 19 must be placed on the 40-man roster within five seasons.

To protect players from being available in the draft, they must be placed on the 40-man within four seasons. If that doesn’t happen, the players can be selected by a team with at least one open spot on their 40-man roster, and they must stay on that team’s 26-man active roster for the entire next season, otherwise they have to be offered back to their original team. If the original team doesn’t wish to reacquire the player, the new team will then have the option to demote that player to the minor leagues. For a full breakdown of how the Rule 5 Draft works, visit this link.

For the Mariners, they had five top-30 prospects (per MLB Pipeline ratings) eligible for the Rule 5 Draft heading into Friday’s deadline but only chose to protect four of them. The odd man out is third baseman Joe Rizzo, who is Seattle’s No. 21 prospect and a 2016 second-round pick. He is a career .267 hitter in the minors and has yet to play above High-A ball.

The other four players all were a bit of no-brainers for the Mariners to protect.

Trammell, a 23-year-old outfielder, was a first-round pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2016 who was later traded to the San Diego Padres. The Padres then sent Trammell and three other young players to the Mariners at the 2020 trade deadline for catcher Austin Nola and relievers Dan Altavilla and Austin Adams.

Trammell is a highly-regarded prospect as No. 5 in the Mariners system and 51st overall in all of baseball per MLB Pipeline. He has drawn comparisons for former MLB outfielder Curtis Granderson for his size, speed and power potential. Trammell made it to Double-A in 2019 with both the Reds and Padres organizations. He possesses a career .270/.363/.406 slash line in the minors and has stolen 110 bases while hitting 24 home runs in 426 games.

Then is a 20-year-old right hander who signed with the Mariners as an international free agent in 2016 and is Seattle’s No. 14 prospect. He was traded to the Yankees in 2017, but Seattle got him back at the 2019 trade deadline. The stuff and velocity has steadily increased as Then has gotten older and bigger. He has a career 2.76 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 159 2/3 innings in 35 outings (33 starts).

The two relievers the Mariners protected could soon find themselves in Seattle’s big league bullpen.

Delaplane, 25, was a 23rd-round pick in 2017 and has been solid as a reliever ever since. Now Seattle’s No. 20 prospect, he uses a mid-90s fastball and pairs it with a really nasty breaking slider. In his first full pro season in 2018, he led the Midwest League with a 15.9 strikeouts per nine innings and for his career, he has struck out 270 while walking 54 to go along with a 2.29 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in 161 1/3 innings. He made it to Double-A in 2019.

Mills, 25, was a third-round pick in 2017 and is the Mariners’ No. 23 prospect. He uses a three-quarters release with his fastball and slider and throws strikes, misses bats and gets a good amount of groundball outs. He made it to Double-A in 2019, and since becoming a a pro in 2017, he has struck out 154 while walking 39 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 126 career innings.

With the Mariners’ 40-man roster at 39, that means Seattle could again take someone in the Rule 5 Draft. Seattle did that last year, taking hard-throwing reliever Yohan Ramirez from the Houston Astros. Ramirez struggled with control at times, walking 20 and hitting four batters in 20 2/3 innings, but he was solid overall, striking out 26 while having a 2.61 ERA in 16 outings. He also picked up three saves. His control improved, as he walked six in September compared to 11 in August and three in two July outings.

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