Ljay Newsome doesn’t say much. His nickname, Quiet Assassin, is a fitting one, as Mariners manager Scott Servais discovered soon after meeting Newsome.
So it wasn’t all that surprising to Servais that Newsome had little to say when he called the 23-year-old right-hander on Saturday morning to deliver some big news. Here’s how Servais recalled the conversation:
Servais: “Ljay, I’ve got some news for you.”
Newsome: “Yes, what is that?”
Servais: “Are you ready to be a major-league player tonight?”
Servais: “Are you excited about that?”
Newsome (chuckles): “Yes.”
Servais: “Call your folks. Tell them you’re a big-leaguer.”
“And that was it,” Servais said with a laugh in a video call from Houston, ahead of the Mariners’ game against the Astros on Saturday night.
Newsome was in Houston already as part of the Mariners’ taxi squad. He is available to make his major-league debut Saturday night, Servais said.
“I think everyone knows Ljay’s history: He’s a strike-thrower. He gets right after it,” Servais said. “No nonsense. He’s a man of few words, that’s for sure.”
Newsome, 5 feet 11 and 210 pounds, was the Mariners’ 26th-round draft choice out of high school in 2015. In five minor-league seasons, he had a 30-32 record with a 4.11 ERA, 62 walks and 472 strikeouts in 499 2/3 innings. He was an all-star in Class A Modesto in 2019. He is ranked as the Mariners’ 29th best prospect by MLB Pipeline, which offered this scouting report:
“The strike-throwing for Newsome is exceptional, as he carries a phenomenal 1.1 BB/9 rate for his career into the 2020 season. He’s willing to throw any of his pitches at any point in the count and does a nice job keeping hitters off-balance, so while his ceiling is limited to that of a back-end starter, there’s more confidence that he could get there, or at least fill a swingman role in the big leagues soon.”
In other transactions Saturday, the Mariners recalled left-hander Taylor Guilbeau, placed Nestor Cortes (left elbow impingement) on the injured list, and designated for assignment veteran reliever Bryan Shaw, who had allowed 12 earned runs in six innings for the Mariners this season.
Lail impresses in M’s debut
Right-hander Brady Lail made his Mariners debut in mop-up duty in the 11-1 defeat Friday against the Astros. He didn’t allow a hit or a run in three innings, striking out three with one walk.
All that happened after he spent parts of six days — including his 27th birthday last Sunday — in quarantine at two separate hotels under MLB’s COVID-19 protocols. Designated for assignment by the Chicago White Sox last week, he was claimed by the Mariners on Monday.
“It’s been an interesting week, for sure,” he said Saturday. “Getting DFA’d. Being in a hotel for six days. Playing catch with the wall as much as I could.”
Lail, originally drafted by the Yankees, came up in the minors in the Yankees’ system with a few of his new Mariners teammates: Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and Cortes.
“I was very excited to be claimed by the Mariners. … I knew a bunch of the guys, so I wasn’t shell-shocked when I got claim here,” he said. “I was excited to get down here and see my friends. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Mariners and their philosophy for pitching, which fits my mentality really well.”
With his appearance Friday, Lail made a unique bit of MLB history. He had made his major-league debut with the Yankees in 2019, with only that one appearance that season. His second major-league appearance came Aug. 6 with the White Sox, who then released him the next day; his third MLB appearance was Friday for the Mariners.
That made him just the fourth player in MLB history — and the first since 1921 — to make his first three appearances with three different teams, according to Stats, Inc. The other three players to do that: Ensign Cottrell (1911-13: Pirates, Cubs and Athletics), Mysterious Walker (1910-13: Reds, Naps and Dodgers) and John Peters (1915-21: Tigers, Indians and Phillies).