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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter IX

Two rightys, a lefty, a first baseman, and an outfielder make appearances in today's feature.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

460. Julian Tavarez

Tavarez was a 6’2", 165 lb. right-handed pitcher from Santiago, Dominican Republic. Born on May 22nd, 1973, he was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 1990. In 1992, he made his professional debut in the rookie-level Appalachian League with the Burlington Indians, where he posted a 6-3 record over 14 starts, striking out 69 in 87.2 innings along with a 1.12 WHIP.

In 1993, Tavarez joined the high-A Kinston Indians in the Carolina League, then racked up an impressive 11-5 record in 18 starts, along with a 2.42 ERA, 107 strikeouts in 119 innings, and an enviable 1.09 WHIP. He followed this with three starts with the Canton/Akron Indians in the double-A Eastern League, going 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP and 11 K’s in 19 innings. The parent club called him to Cleveland in August, where he ended up making seven starts and one relief appearance. He allowed more than one baserunner per inning in each of his contests except for one, on August 19th, when he earned a 5-1 win over the Boston Red Sox. He struck out five and allowed six hits over seven innings. Overall, he went 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP.

1994 would see Tavarez make one appearance in the majors, on May 26th, when he gave up eight runs (four earned) in the first 1.2 innings of an eventual 13-5 loss to Boston. Other than that, he spent the entire season with the Charlotte Knights in the triple-A International League. He went 15-6 for the Knights, with a 3.48 ERA in 26 starts, along with a 1.19 WHIP.

Tavarez played the strike-shortened 1995 season entirely at the major league level, appearing in 57 games for the Tribe, all in relief. He struck out 68 in 85 innings, along with a 1.141 WHIP, a 2.44 ERA, and a 10-2 record. Through his first 22 appearances, he registered a 0.99 ERA, striking out 28 over 36.1 innings and racking up a 5-0 record. On August 30th, he kept the Indians in the game, pitching three perfect innings in a 4-3, 14-inning win over the Toronto Blue Jays. His overall performance helped him finish sixth in the AL Rookie of the Year Award vote. The important thing for Tavarez, however, was possibly the end of any extended time in the minor leagues. He would appear in eight more minor league games through the rest of his career.

In 1996, Tavarez made two starts with the Buffalo Bisons, but otherwise spent the season with Cleveland. He went 4-7 with a 5.36 ERA, a 1.525 WHIP, and almost no power numbers of which to speak (46 strikeouts in 80.2 innings). He earned a 7-6, 11-inning win on April 14th over Boston by pitching 2.1 perfect innings through the 10th. Despite his shaky numbers, he didn’t allow an earned run in 33 of his 51 appearances. After the season, the Indians traded him with Jeff Kent, Jose Vizcaino, and a player to be named later (Joe Roa) to the San Francisco Giants for Matt Williams and a player to be named later (Trent Hubbard).

Tavarez played three seasons for the Giants, pitching in 196 games (including a logic-defying and NL leading 89 in 1997), going 13-7 with a 4.34 ERA, a 1.520 WHIP, and 123 strikeouts in 228.1 innings pitched. After the 1999 season, the Giants waived him, and the Colorado Rockies claimed him.

2000 would see Tavarez rank amongst the NL leaders with a .688 win percentage, going 11-5 in 51 games (including 12 starts). He pitched 120 innings in his only season with the Rockies, striking out 62 batters and racking up a 4.43 ERA and a 1.475 WHIP. He signed a free agent contract to spend the following campaign with the Chicago Cubs, and started in 28 of his 34 appearances with the North-siders. He went 10-9 with a 4.52 ERA, a 1.494 WHIP, and 107 strikeouts in 161.1 innings (both career highs).

Just prior to the start of the 2002 season, the Cubs traded Tavarez with Jose Cueto, Ryan Jorgensen, and Dontrelle Willis to the Marlins for Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement. Tavarez started in 27 of his 29 appearances with Florida, going 10-12 with a 5.39 ERA and a staggering (for a starting rotation pitcher) 1.705 WHIP, striking out just 67 batters in 153.2 innings. His best game for the Fish was likely on June 19th, when he pitched seven innings and allowed a single run on four hits, striking out five in a 2-1 victory over the Indians. The only appearance in which he didn’t allow at least one run was when he went one inning in relief on September 28th, in a 9-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Granted his free agency after the campaign, Tavarez signed up with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After playing a season for the Pirates (64 games, 3-3, 3.66 ERA, 11 saves, 83.2 IP, 39 SO, 1.219 WHIP), Tavarez later played for the St. Louis Cardinals (151 games, 9-7, 2.91 ERA, eight saves, 130 IP, 95 SO, 1.254 WHIP), the Red Sox (101 games, 12-16, 4.94 ERA, one save, 246 IP, 139 SO, 1.557 WHIP), the Milwaukee Brewers (seven games, 0-1, 8.59 ERA, 7.1 IP, 10 SO, 2.455 WHIP), the Atlanta Braves (36 games, 1-3, 3.89, 34.2 IP, 35 SO, 1.615 WHIP), and the Washington Nationals (42 games, 3-7, 4.89 ERA, one save, 35 IP, 32 SO, 1.743 WHIP), retiring in 2009 to Miramar, FL.

All-Time Statline: 29 games, 27 starts, zero saves, 10-12, 5.39 ERA, 153.2 IP, 74 BB, 67 SO, 1.705 WHIP, -0.8 WAR

459. Billy McMillon

McMillon was a 5’11", 172 lb. left fielder from Alamogordo, NM. Born on November 17th, 1971, he was an eighth round pick of the Marlins in the 1993 amateur draft out of Clemson, where he hit .381 in 154 games over three seasons.

McMillon reported to the low-A Elmira Pioneers in the New York-Penn League after his selection, and got into 57 games for the club. He hit .305/.398/.465/.863 with six home runs and 35 RBI, scoring 38 times in half of a season. The following season would see him with the single-A Kane County Cougars, hitting .252/.366/.417/.783 over a club leading 137 games. He also led the team with 101 RBI, hitting 17 home runs and scoring 88 times.

In 1995, McMillon joined the Portland Sea Dogs in the double-A Eastern League, where he led the team in most offensive categories with a line of .313/.423/.461/.884, with 96 walks, 92 runs, 14 home runs, 93 RBI, and 15 stolen bases.

With nothing left to prove at the double-A level, McMillon joined the Charlotte Knights in the triple-A International League in 1996, hitting .352/.418/.602/1.020 in 97 games, with 32 doubles, 17 home runs, 70 RBI, and 72 runs scored. He was called up to the Marlins in late-July, and remained with the parent club through the rest of the season, starting 10 games in left field but getting into action 28 times in total. On July 27th, he went two-for-three with three RBI in his second career game, a wild 20-12 loss to the San Diego Padres. He got 11 hits in 51 at bats for the Fish, with four RBI and no extra base hits.

McMillon began the 1997 campaign with the Knights, and hit .279/.378/.485/.863 in 57 games, with eight home runs and 26 RBI. The Marlins recalled him for five games in mid-May, then for eight more appearances near the end of June. He would collect a single and a double in 18 plate appearances with the major league club. On July 21st, the Marlins sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies for catcher Darren Daulton. McMillon hit .292/.333/.458/.792 with the Phillies with four doubles, two home runs and 13 RBI in 24 games.

McMillon went on to play at the major league level with the Detroit Tigers (66 games, .255/.342/.414/.756, five home runs, 28 RBI) and for the Oakland Athletics (138 games, .248/.325/.416/.740, nine home runs, 47 RBI). After retiring as a player, he went into managing in the Boston Red Sox minor league feeder system. He currently manages the Portland Sea Dogs, the team in which he starred in 1995 for the Marlins, now a part of the Red Sox system.

All-Time Statline: 41 games, 13-for-69, four runs, one double, zero triples, zero home runs, five RBI, zero stolen bases, five walks, 21 strikeouts, .188/.243/.203/.446, -0.8 win shares.

458. Darren Oliver

Oliver was a 6’3", 250 lb. left-handed linebacker pitcher from Kansas City, MO. The son of former major league first baseman/outfielder Bob Oliver, he was born on October 6th, 1970. Chosen in the third round of the amateur draft by the Texas Rangers in 1988, he joined the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rangers after his selection. The younger Oliver started in nine of his 12 appearances, going 5-1 with a 2.15 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.

1989 would see Oliver graduate to the single-A Gastonia Rangers in the Southern Atlantic League, and post an 8-7 record with a 3.16 ERA, 108 strikeouts, a 1.37 WHIP, and 108 strikeouts in 122.1 innings. He was ranked as Texas’ number four prospect.

Over the next three seasons, Oliver made appearances at four different levels of the Texas farm system, totaling 17 games as he battled a variety of ailments. Finally in 1993, he appeared in 46 games for the double-A Tulsa Drillers in the Texas League, compiling a 7-5 record and an impressive 1.96 ERA over 46 relief appearances. Late in the season, he joined the Rangers on two occasions. Striking out four and allowing one run in 3.1 innings.

In 1994, Oliver was once again considered a top prospect, ranking number five in Texas’ system. He played with Texas for most of the season, going 4-0 over 43 appearances covering 50 innings. He struck out a batter per inning, racked up a 3.42 ERA, and a 1.500 WHIP. On July 7th, he struck out four in 2.1 innings of scoreless relief in a 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians. On July 20th, he pitched three innings without allowing a hit, striking out three Indians in a 13-11 victory.

1995 would see Oliver start his season with the Rangers, and start in seven of his 17 appearances through the first part of the season. He struck out 39 in 49 innings, and went 4-2 with a 4.22 ERA. On June 27th, he suffered a partially torn rotator cuff and missed the rest of the campaign in rehabilitation.

In 1996, Oliver joined the Rangers’ rotation, starting 30 games and going 14-6 (an AL fourth best .700 winning percentage) with a 4.66 ERA, 112 strikeouts in 173.2 innings, and a 1.532 WHIP. His best game of the season was on June 8th, when he pitched a complete game five-hit shutout, striking out four and walking zero in a 2-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

Oliver broke the 200 inning barrier for the first and only time in his 20-year major league career in 1997, going 201.1 innings and racking up a 13-12 record in 32 starts for the Rangers. On April 23rd, he pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, striking out five in a 2-1 win against the Detroit Tigers. On June 12th, he was the first man to throw a pitch in regular season interleague play, against the San Francisco Giants. He pitched a complete game shutout on July 16th, scattering eight hits and striking out four in setting down the Blue Jays by a 6-0 count.

1998 would see Oliver spend the first part of the season with the Rangers, going 6-7 in 19 starts with a disappointing 6.53 ERA and an alarming 1.771 WHIP. On July 31st, the Rangers sent him with Fernando Tatis and a player to be named later (Mark Little) to the St. Louis Cardinals for Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre. In 10 starts for the Cards, he went 4-4 with a much-less upsetting 4.26 ERA and a 1.526 WHIP. His best game of the season would be on August 26th against the Marlins, when he struck out six and allowed three hits over seven innings. He earned no decision as the Fish fought back to take a 7-6 win.

In 1999, Oliver made 30 starts for St. Louis, posting a 9-9 record, a 4.26 ERA, and a then-career best 1.380 WHIP. On August 3rd, he struck out 11 and allowed four hits in a complete game 6-0 win against the San Diego Padres. On August 28th, he went nine full shutout innings, striking out six and allowing four hits in a 3-0, 13-inning loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Just before the 2000 season, Oliver signed a free agent contract to return to the Rangers. He made 49 starts over two seasons for Texas, going 13-20 with a 6.60 ERA, a 1.706 WHIP, and 153 strikeouts in 262 innings. He then played a season each with the Boston Red Sox (14 games, nine starts, 4-5, 4.66, 58 IP, 32 SO, 1.672 WHIP) and the Colorado Rockies (33 games, 32 starts, 13-11, 5.04, 180.1 IP, 88 SO, 1.453 WHIP).

On February 26th, 2004, Oliver signed a free agent contract for one-year and $750,000 to play for the Marlins, breaking camp as Florida’s number five starter. His first start was his best showing of the season, as he earned the win by giving up two earned runs in seven innings in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He got into 18 games for the Fish, making eight starts and going 2-3 with a 6.44 ERA and a 1.568 WHIP. On July 22nd, the Houston Astros purchased his contract from Florida. After leaving the Marlins, incidentally, his season-by-season WHIP never again exceeded 1.265.

Oliver completed the season with the Astros, going 1-0 in nine games. He signed and was released by the Rockies, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Chicago Cubs through the 2005 season, spending his time primarily in the minor leagues.

Oliver made a return to the majors in 2006 with the New York Mets as a reliever only, a move that agreed with his eventual longevity. He went 4-1 with a 3.44 ERA, a 1.123 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts over 81 innings in his season with the Mets, later playing with the Los Angeles Angels (178 games, 15-3, 3.10, 209.1 IP, 164 SO, 1.180 WHIP), a third round with the Texas Rangers (125 games, 6-7, 2.40 ERA, 112.2 IP, 109 SO, 1.118 WHIP), and the Blue Jays (112 games, 6-8, 2.90 ERA, 105.2 IP, 92 SO, 1.136 WHIP). He is currently serving in a front office role with the Rangers.

All-Time Statline: 18 games, eight starts, zero saves, 2-3, 6.44 ERA, 58.2 IP, 17 BB, 33 SO, 1.568 WHIP, -0.8 WAR

457. Jorge Julio

Julio is the pitching coach at Cypress Bay High School in Weston, FL. But before that, he was a right-handed pitcher born on March 3rd, 1979 in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1996, he was signed as a free agent by the Montreal Expos. He went 5-6 with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Expos in 1997, posting a 3.58 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP over 15 games in his first professional experience.

In 1998, Julio played with the Vermont Expos in the low-A New York-Penn league (seven games, 3-1, 2.57) and with the Cape Fear Crocs in the single-A South Atlantic League (six games, 2-2, 5.68). He played with the Jupiter Hammerheads (still an Expos affiliate at the time) for two seasons beginning in 1999, going 6-18 with a 4.73 ERA over 44 games in the high-A Florida State League.

Despite this substandard track record in high-A, the Baltimore Orioles had enough interest in Julio to exchange Ryan Minor to the Expos for him following the 2000 season. He played 34 games of the 2001 season with the Rochester Red Wings in the triple-A International League, going 1-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. He also played in 18 games with the Orioles. He gave up five earned runs in his first two appearances covering 1.1 innings, then gave up four over his next 20 innings, spanning 16 games to finish with a respectable 3.80 ERA. He earned his first major league win on August 23rd, getting the last two outs of the seventh inning then watching the Orioles come from behind to defeat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 7-4.

Over the next four seasons, Julio appeared in 181 games at the major league level with the Orioles, going 10-23 with 83 saves (including a career high 36 in 2003) and a 4.23 ERA. He finished third in the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year Award voting, and compiled a 1.383 WHIP to go with 235 strikeouts in 270.1 innings. The Orioles traded Julio to the New York Mets with John Maine for Kris Benson prior to the 2006 season.

In 2006, Julio appeared in 18 games for the Mets, going 1-2 with one save and a 4.23 ERA before they packed him off to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Orlando Hernandez on May 24th. Julio eventually became the closer, and registered 15 saves for the club, going 1-2 with a 3.83 ERA and a 1.254 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.

After 2007 spring training, the Diamondbacks traded Julio to the Marlins for Yusmiero Petit. His stay in Florida was short and disastrous. He allowed runs in six of his 10 appearances. Each of the six times he gave up at least one run was in an appearance that lasted one inning or less. His only good game was on May 7th, when he pitched two perfect innings and struck out two Dodgers in a 6-1 loss to Los Angeles. He is, however, Florida’s all-time leader with an OBP of 1.000 (he reached on a walk in his only plate appearance). The Marlins, no longer smitten with Julio, traded him to the Colorado Rockies for Byung-Hyun Kim on May 13th.

The mountain air was good for Julio, who lowered his ERA to a respectable 3.93 in the notorious hitters’ ballpark, going 0-3 over 58 appearances and posting a 1.329 WHIP through the season. He started the next season with the Cleveland Indians (15 games, 0-0, 5.60, 17.2 IP, 15 SO, 1.642 WHIP) and ended it with the Atlanta Braves (12 games, 3-0, 0.73, 12.1 IP, 19 SO, 1.378 WHIP). 2009 would be his last season in the majors, with the Milwaukee Brewers (15 games, 1-1, 17.1 IP, 13 SO, 1.731 WHIP).

All-Time Statline: 10 games, zero starts, zero saves, 0-2, 12.54 ERA, 9.1 IP, 11 BB, six SO, 3.107 WHIP, -0.8 WAR

456. Ryan Jackson

Jackson was a 6’2", 195 lb. first baseman for the Marlins in 1998. He was born on November 15th, 1971 in Orlando, FL and was initially selected in the seventh round of the amateur draft by Florida in 1994 out of Duke University. Jackson hit .322/.393/.555/.948 over 215 games for the Blue Devils, with 42 home runs and 183 RBI.

After graduation, Jackson joined the low-A Elmira Pioneers in the New York-Penn League, and hit .290/.338/.428/.766 in 72 games, with six home runs and 41 RBI. 1995 would see him promoted to the Kane County Cougars, in the single-A Midwest League. He was at or near the top of Kane County’s leaderboard in most categories through the campaign, which resulted in 132 games played, 78 runs scored, 39 doubles, 10 home runs, 82 RBI, 13 stolen bases, and 67 walks, along with a .293/.382/.465/.847 statline.

Jackson spent most of 1996 on the DL, splitting just 14 games between the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Marlins and the high-A Brevard County Manatees, in the Florida State League. He played 134 games at the double-A level in 1997, with the Portland Sea Dogs in the Eastern League. He finished second on the team in almost every offensive category to fellow major league-bound Kevin Millar, hitting .312/.380/.544/.924 with 87 runs, 28 doubles, 26 homers, and 98 RBI.

1998 would see Jackson open the season as Florida’s starting first baseman (and occasionally left fielder, right fielder, or designated hitter), and make 62 starts through the campaign. He played in 111 games overall, collecting multiple hits a dozen times. On May 26th, Jackson hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the first, but the Marlins went on to lose to the New York Mets, 10-6. On July 21st, in a 6-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, Jackson collected three singles and three RBI. The Marlins posted an abysmal 32-79 record in his appearances, a .288 winning percentage, but only 22-29 without him, a .431 winning percentage. Although he wasn’t really that bad, he struck out over a quarter of the time, had hardly any power to speak of, and couldn’t draw that many walks.

Jackson made it to the final cut in 1999 spring training, but not past it. The Marlins placed him on waivers on April 2nd, where the Seattle Mariners took a flyer on him. He appeared in 32 games for the Mariners that season, hitting 16-for-68 with 10 RBI and a .578 OPS. Starting in 2001, he played parts of two seasons with the Detroit Tigers, hitting .218 over 83 contests, with two home runs, 11 RBI, and a .614 OPS.

All-Time Statline: 111 games, 65-for-260, 26 runs, 15 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 31 RBI, one stolen base, 20 walks, 73 strikeouts, .250/.305/.373/.678, -0.8 win shares.