Chance Ruffin was drafted 48th overall in the 2010 draft by Detroit and had pitched at three levels this season for Detriot, starting the season in Double-A Erie then moving briefly to Triple-A Toledo before pitching 3 2/3 big league innings for the Tigers in late July. He has posted a 2.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 11.1 strikeouts-per-9 in 48 2/3 innings and 44 games (all in relief) for Detroit in the minors in 2011.
Baseball runs in the family for Ruffin, as his father is long-time former major league pitcher Bruce Ruffin. Per the Detroit Tigers roster, the 22-year old right-hander is 6-feet tall and weighs in at 185 pounds. Ruffin relies primarily on his fastball--which regularly sits 93-95 and has good movement and consistent downward plane--and a wipe-out, swing-and-miss slider that is 82-84 and that most scouts call his best pitch. To lend some credence to that statement, his slider has graded out at 2.11 runs above average in his obviously small big league sample thus far.
Ruffin started in college for the Longhorns initially before moving to the pen his final season and he threw four pitches while starting, but it appears he has abandoned the curveball now. He will still mix in a change-up on occassion and he has good velocity difference with it (typically 83-85), but that pitch is seen as a below average offering. His control isn't ideal and his command--particularly with the fastball--can escape him at times, but 2011 is his first pro season.
Ruffin has been operating as a closer in both levels of the minor leagues this season as he has finished the game in 37 of his 44 appearances while racking up 19 saves. He is said to have the "closer mentality" that everyone covets, so a role at the back-end of the bullpen fits him well.
As Jack Zduriencik mentioned on KJR 950 AM this afternoon, Ruffin will be in uniform for the Mariners tonight when they play the final game of their three game set with the Blue Jays at 7:10. He did not pitch yesterday for the Mud Hens and has pitched just once since the 12th, so he should be available tonight if needed.
To make room on the 40-man and 25-man rosters, left-handed reliever Aaron Laffey was designated for assignment by Seattle. Laffey got off to a surprisingly strong start out of the Mariners bullpen early this season, but the 26-year old has posted a 12.00 ERA and 2.78 WHIP in nine second-half appearances. Opposing batters are hitting .447 and slugging .830 against Laffey in 52 plate appearances since the break.
Getting back to Ruffin, the Mariners had said publicly all along that the Player To Be Named in this trade was "not a complimentary piece", and Zduriencik echoed those thoughts in talking about Ruffin today stating that he is a big arm that they feel is ready for a big league role immediately. His inclusion in the trade paired with the performaces so far of the other two big leaguers in the deal--Casper Wells and Charlie Furbush--are making this deal look like a good one for the M's.