Mariners continue to stockpile interesting relief arms down on the farm, which isn’t surprising because the team’s developmental system has a track record of building quality major league relief aces. Current relievers Paul Sewald, Justin Topa, and Gabe Speier were all projects Mariner pitching experts took from other teams, singled out one thing they do well, and unleashed them on the rest of the league. Look further back on the timeline, and you’ll see Edwin Diaz, a starter with spotty command who became one of the most dominant relievers in the league.
President of Baseball Operations, Jerry Dipoto, is at it again plucking righty reliever Trent Thornton from the Blue Jays for Tacoma fan favorite Mason McCoy. Rainier fans might be slightly salty over this one, mainly because McCoy routinely blew our minds with his defensive wizardry.
McCoy started to show a true 20/20 skill set over the past few years, which made him a valuable trade chip, especially since he is blocked by a trio of players at the Major League level (Crawford, Moore, Caballero). Dipoto saw this and knew the importance of continuing to add arms into the organizational pile. Enter Trent Thornton who offers an intriguing five-pitch mix out of the pen, with his four-seamer and sinker providing some swing and miss thanks to high spin rates. Additionally, the 29-year-old reliever throws two different types of sliders, a traditional variety and the fad, the sweeper. His outpitch is the curveball a la Isaiah Campbell.
He can rush it up to 96, and the late life and high spin creates a tough at-bat for the opposition. But my favorite thing about this transaction is wondering what the Mariners’ pitching professionals will do with Thornton’s arsenal. Well, that and the fact that he looks like a guy who could lighten up a dugout.
Fans can look for Trent to join Matt Festa and Riley O’Brien in the Rainiers’ bullpen that’s been lights out this season.