Most people assumed Chance Ruffin and Charlie Furbush were the main reasons the Seattle Mariners parted ways with control artist Doug Fister at this year’s deadline. And “those people” did have an argument.
Ruffin was a first round pick in the 2010 draft, and has already showcased his abilities by posting a 2.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 2.73 K/BB (11.1 K/9) in 48.6 innings this season. Also, Furbush appears to be at least a Major League caliber reliever, sporting a 3.17 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 3.81 K/BB (10.2 K/9) in 54 innings at Triple-A so far. But Casper Wells, the seemingly forgotten element to the Fister deal, has already proven why this trade could be a huge win for the Mariners.
Casper Wells was selected in the 14th round of the 2005 draft by the Detroit Tigers. After a few mediocre seasons in 2005 and 2006, Wells turned a few heads in 2007, when he posted a .267/.324/.527 line in Single-A. The outfielder continued to turn heads the following season, when he wowed scouts with a .269/.366/.532 line and 27 homeruns, 79 RBI, 90 runs, and 25 stolen bases between Single-A and Double-A.
Wells was no longer just Minor League fodder–at age 23, the guy had a chance to be a solid Major League bat. The Tigers gave Wells his first taste of the show in 2010, where he owned a .323/.364/.538 line in 99 plate appearances. He didn’t quite have a permanent spot with the Tigers, as he was constantly shuttled between Triple-A and the majors.
That changed a bit in 2011. Wells made the Tigers Major League roster out of Spring Training, and saw some decent playing time, mostly in place of the oft-injured Magglio Ordonez. In 125 plate appearances, Wells posted a .257/.323/.451 line with 4 homeruns, 12 RBI, and 16 runs. But on July 30, Wells was traded to the Seattle Mariners with Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez for Doug Fister and David Pauley.
Since the trade, Wells has not only become a starting outfielder for the Mariners, but has also turned into their most dangerous hitter. In just 61 plate appearances, Wells has posted a .333/.410/.667/1.077 line with 6 homeruns, 14 RBI, 11 runs, and 2 stolen bases. Granted, while the 26 year-old has sported a low 6.8 BB%, high 26.8 K%, and festive .349 BABIP, his impressive 18.9 HR/FB ranks fourth among American League outfielders (with 190 or more plate appearances). No one is saying Casper Wells is already of All-Star caliber, but the Mariners might have found themselves a cheap player with a ton of statistically-supported power potential.