The Seattle Mariners selected reliever Will Vest in this week’s MLB Rule 5 draft.
In 2020, the Seattle Mariners had lots of issues with the bullpen. In the first half of the season, even while the team overall was outperforming expectations, the relievers seemed destined to derail any hope of the Mariners making the postseason. Seattle knows they need to fix this entering 2021 and to help do so chose right-hander Will Vest in the Rule 5 draft.
Vest was taken in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 draft and by rule, Vest must now be a part of the Mariners active 26-man roster this year. This also means that Seattle thinks they saw enough out of Vest when he was part of the Tigers organization that he can help the team win games next year. Can he?
Vest, of course, didn’t pitch in 2020 as minor league baseball was shut down because of COVID-19.
Vest does have the ability to strike out opposing batters. His change-up is electric and is basically his out-pitch. Vest can also get to 98 MPH on his fastball. But Vest isn’t going to be a closer. At best, he should come into the game in the 7th inning and try to preserve a Seattle Mariners victory. While Vest can get strikeouts, he also walks far too many batters.
This may be one reason he has yet to reach the majors but will turn 26 years old during next season. Just like Ryan Rowland-Smith told us on the podcast, Vest is another young pitcher that helps build depth with the hope of turning into a valuable asset in a few years when the Mariners will blossom into a playoff team.
Will Vest with the Tigers
In his three years in the Detroit Tigers organization, Vest had 26 save opportunities and saved just 15 of those. Not exactly what you want from a closer. Vest also walked 41 batters in 132.1 innings for an average of 3.2 walks per 9 innings. Not awful but not great and giving up walks as a reliever is a good way to blow games.
That said, Vest can be an upgrade to the Seattle Mariners bullpen next year. He can strikeout batters and has a career .246 batting average against him. It would seem like as long as Vest doesn’t beat himself by walking people, he can be productive. Just don’t expect him to be a closer if you happen to be a Mariners fan.