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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter VII

Today's feature turns the focus to two outfielders, a right-hander, and two catchers.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

470. Greg Briley

Briley was a 5’9", 175 lb. outfielder from Greenville, North Carolina. Born on May 24th, 1965, he was initially a first round selection of the Seattle Mariners, 12th overall in the 1986 amateur draft. As a member of the Bellingham Mariners, a low-A club in the Northwest League, he hit .298/.424/.486/.911 over 63 games in his first year of professional ball, with seven home runs and 26 stolen bases. His performance earned him a promotion to AA in 1987, with the Chattanooga Lookouts in the Southern League (137 games, .275/.324/.371/.695, seven home runs, 34 stolen bases).

In 1988, Briley played most of the year at the AAA level with the Calgary Cannons in the Pacific Coast League, where he put up a .312/.368/.492/.860 line with 11 homers, 66 RBI and 27 stolen bags. He also got his first look at the major league level, with the Mariners. He hit .250 in 13 games, with a home run and five walks, along with six strikeouts.

1989 would see Briley earn a position as one of Seattle’s regular outfielders. Over the next four seasons, (including 1988), he appeared in 478 contests with 26 home runs, 123 RBI and 59 stolen bases. He hit .260/.317/.383/.700 over that time. The Mariners cut him at the end of 1993’s spring training, and he signed on with the Marlins on March 31st.

Although Briley only started 25 games in the outfield for the Marlins, he managed to appear in 120 all told. He put up a statline of .194/.250/.282/.532, with three round-trippers, 12 RBI and six stolen bases. For the three-game span from May 11th to May 13th, he went three-for-four with two doubles, a home run and four RBI. On June 29th, he hit a two-out, RBI single against the New York Mets to tie the game, 9-9 and send it to extra innings. The Marlins eventually dropped that one, 10-9 in 12 frames. Florida released him on September 27th as the season came to a close, and he would never again appear at the major league level.

Briley spent the next four seasons in various minor leagues, between the Charlotte Knights, the Tabasco Olmecas, the Jacksonville Suns, the Indianapolis Indians, the Toledo Mud Hens, the Duluth-Superior Dukes, and the Poza Rica Petroleros. He is currently the hitting coach for the Great Falls Voyagers, a Chicago White Sox minor league team.

All-Time Statline: 120 games, 33-for-170, 17 runs, six doubles, zero triples, three home runs, 12 RBI, six stolen bases, 12 walks, 42 strikeouts, .194/.250/.282/.532, -0.9 win shares.

469. John Johnstone

Johnstone was a 6’3", 195 lb. right-handed pitcher from Liverpool, NY. Born on November 25th, 1968, he was chosen in the 20th round of the 1987 amateur draft by the New York Mets. He joined the Kingsport Mets in the rookie-level Appalachian League for the remainder of the season after his selection, and went 1-1 with a 7.45 ERA with a 2.14 WHIP over 17 games. The following season would see him remain at the rookie level, and play for the Gulf Coast League Mets. He improved his ERA to 2.68, going 3-4 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP.

In 1989, Johnstone played with the Pittsfield Mets in the single-A New York-Penn League, posting an 11-2 record, a 2.77 ERA, and a 1.24 WHIP. 1990 would see him promoted to the high-A St. Lucie Mets in the Florida State League, where he went 15-6 with a 2.24 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

1991 and 1992 would see Johnstone play at the double-A level in the Eastern League, first with the Williamsport Bills (27 starts, 7-9, 3.97, 165.1 IP, 100 SO, 1.44 WHIP), then with the Binghampton Mets (24 starts, 7-7, 2.75, 149.1 IP, 121 SO, 1.13 WHIP). After the season, he was drafted by the Marlins with the 31st pick in the expansion draft.

Johnstone started out the 1993 season with the triple-A Edmonton Trappers, going 4-15 with a 5.18 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in the Pacific Coast League. Despite these alarming figures, Florida called him up to join the parent club for the last month of the inaugural season. On September 3rd, he made his debut and took the loss, allowing an earned run in the 13th inning of a 5-4 decision against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He totaled 10.2 innings for the Fish, striking out five and allowing 16 hits and seven walks. He had a 5.91 ERA and a 2.156 WHIP to go with his 0-2 record.

In 1994, Johnstone played most of the campaign back in Edmonton, going 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA in 29 games, striking out 43 in 42.1 innings along with a much improved 1.30 WHIP. He joined the Marlins in late-June and stayed with Florida through mid-August. He didn’t allow an earned run through his first seven appearances, spanning eight innings. Opponents during that streak hit just .107 against him, with a .372 OPS. He had an enviable 0.303 WHIP during that stretch. He earned his first career win on July 1st when he pitched the 10th and 11th inning of a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves, striking out two and allowing zero hits. In total, he pitched in 17 games for the Marlins, going 1-2 with a 5.91 ERA, a 1.828 WHIP, and 23 strikeouts in 21.1 innings.

1995 would see Johnstone appear in four games for the Marlins near the beginning of the season, and give up two earned runs over 4.2 innings. He strained his right elbow and was out for the season on May 8th, and the Marlins granted his free agency after the season closed. He signed on with the Houston Astros a few days later.

Johnstone labored at the triple-A level with the PCL’s Tuscon Toros in 1996, putting up a 3-3 record and a 3.42 ERA in 45 games. He appeared in nine games with the Astros in the middle of the season, earning a 1-0 record and allowing 17 hits in 13 innings with a 5.54 ERA.

In 1997, Johnstone signed a free agent contract to play with the San Francisco Giants. Most of his time in the organization would see him with the Phoenix Firebirds in the PCL. He played 38 games in Phoenix, going 0-3, 4.03 over 38 innings. He spent the month of July with San Francisco, getting into 10 games and racking up a 2.16 ERA over 16.2 innings, with 14 strikeouts and a 1.080 WHIP. The Giants waived him on August 7th, and he joined the Oakland Athletics. After five appearances over three weeks (6.1 innings, 2.84 ERA, 2.211 WHIP), he was again granted free agency, and signed back on with the Giants. He got into three more games that season for San Francisco, pitching two innings.

1998 would see Johnstone finally hit his stride and get some serious major league playing time. He appeared in a career high and team-second 70 games, going 6-5 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP, striking out 86 in 88 innings. He earned an opening day victory on March 31st, pitching two shutout innings at the end of a 12-inning 9-4 win over the Houston Astros. On June 9th, he struck out three in 1.2 shutout innings, earning another win in a 7-6 triumph over the Seattle Mariners.

Johnstone went 4-6 with a 2.60 ERA in 1999 for the Giants, appearing in 62 contests and striking out 56 in 65.2 innings. He logged a career best 1.036 WHIP. He didn’t allow an earned run through his first 15 appearances, a span lasting 13.2 innings. Opponents hit just .133 over that time, and struck out nine times. On July 22nd, he struck out five of the six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth inning of an 8-7 loss to the San Diego Padres. He pitched three perfect innings, striking out two on July 25th in a 13-innings, 2-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

In 2000, Johnstone played in 47 games for the Giants, going 3-4 with a 6.30 ERA and a 1.540 WHIP. He landed on the DL in mid-July for a back injury, eventually getting surgery and effectively ending his career. In 2012, Johnstone was inducted into the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame.

All-Time Statline: 28 games, zero starts, zero saves, 1-4, 5.65 ERA, 36.2 IP, 25 BB, 31 SO, 1.936 WHIP, -0.9 WAR

468. Jeff Mathis

Jeff Mathis, a 6’, 205 lb. right-handed catcher, was a first round pick of the Anaheim Angels in the 2001 amateur draft, 33rd overall. Born on March 31st, 1983, the Marianna, FL native made his minor league debut with the rookie-level Provo Angels soon after his selection, going 23-for-77 in 22 games, with 18 RBI. He earned a promotion to the single-A level Cedar Rapids Kernels in the Midwest League in 2002. He was the Rapids’ starting catcher, and hit .287/.346/.444/.790 in 128 games, with 41 doubles, 10 homers and 73 RBI.

In 2003, Mathis split his season between the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (high-A, California League, 98 games, .323/.384/.500/.884, 28 doubles, 11 home runs, 54 RBI) and the Arkansas Travelers (double-A, Texas League, 24 games, .284/.364/.463/.827). He remained with the Travelers for the entirety of the 2004 campaign as the double-A club’s starting catcher, playing in 117 contests and hitting .227/.310/.394/.704 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI.

2005 would see Mathis join the triple-A Salt Lake Stingers in the Pacific Coast League. He backstopped 112 games, and improved his hitting line to .276/.340/.499/.839 with 21 home runs and 73 RBI. He made his first major league appearance in August, going 0-for-2 over three games. In late September, he collected his first major league hit, a single in the eighth inning of a 7-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on the 29th of the month.

After playing in a dozen games with the Angels through April, Mathis spent the majority of his 2006 campaign back with the Stingers, playing in 99 games and hitting .289/.333/.430/.763 with five round-trippers and 45 RBI. He played in 11 more games with the Angels in September. As a major leaguer, he started 14 times behind the plate, cutting down three-of-15 basestealers. His best game at the dish was in Anaheim’s last game of the season, when he collected three RBI on a single, a double, and a home run in an 11-10 loss to the A’s. He ended up hitting just .145 on the season, with two homers and six RBI.

In 2007, spent half of the season with Salt Lake (66 games, .244/.295/.276/.671, five homers, 26 RBI) and the other half in the American League with the Angels. He appeared in 59 games with Anaheim, and hit .211/.276/.351/.627 with four homers and 23 RBI. He only threw out eight out of 48 baserunners, but totaled a .991 fielding percentage. He started 38 games at catcher at the major league level, and had nine multi-hit games in the process. On July 28th, he went three-for-four with a double and an RBI in a 10-3 win over the Detroit Tigers.

2008 would see Mathis spend the whole season at the major league level with Anaheim for the first time. In 94 games (90 starts), he had nine multi-hit games. He had a career high six RBI on July 23rd, going four-for-five with a double and a homer in a 14-11 victory over the Cleveland Indians. Overall, he hit .194/.275/.318/.593 with a career high nine homers and 42 RBI, while fielding .981 and throwing out 20 basestealers in 77 attempts.

Mathis started 78 games behind the plate for the Angels in 2009, appearing in 84 in total. Eight of his appearances involved more than one hit. On May 14th, he hit safely twice, including a walk-off RBI-single in the bottom of the 12th as the Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox, 5-4. He had a .211/.288/.308/.596 batting line with five round-trippers and 28 RBI, fielding .988 and throwing out the AL average of 26% (18-of-70) of would-be basestealers.

In 2010, Mathis hit .195/.219/.278/.497 with three homers and 18 RBI over 68 games, including 62 starts at catcher. He only had six multi-hit games on the season, including a three-hit night on July 15th in an 8-3 victory against the Seattle Mariners. He had two singles and an RBI double in the win. Over the season, he put up a .985 fielding percentage and threw out 11-of-54 baserunners.

2011 would see Mathis hit .174/.225/.259/.484 in 93 games for the Angels, including 79 starts behind the dish. For the third time, he equaled his career high with nine multi-hit games. On September 10th, he drew a walk, sacrificed a runner over, and hit a double and a homer for two RBI in a 6-0 win against the New York Yankees. His .995 fielding percentage ranked him third in the AL at the position, and his 14 sacrifice hits were fourth most in the junior circuit. He also threw out 18 baserunners in 66 chances.

Mathis joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012 in a trade for Brad Mills, and hit eight home runs with 27 RBI in 71 games. Mathis hit .218/.249/.393/.642 overall, all career high marks aside from the OBP. In 60 starts, (one at DH), he had multiple hits seven times, including two four-hit nights. He hit three singles and a double on September 13th in an 8-3 victory against the Mariners. His .996 fielding percentage marked his career high at the time, and in throwing out 20-of-49 baserunners beat the AL average success rate by 16%. After the season, the Jays traded him with Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino to the Marlins for Emiio Bonifacio, John Buck, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, and Jose Reyes.

In 2013, Mathis was nominally Miami’s starting catcher, appearing in 73 games, all but three of them starts. In 10 of his appearances, he had two hits, including on September 1st, when he hit a solo home run and a two-run double in a 7-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. Mathis collected a .181/.251/.284/.535 with five home runs and 29 RBI, also improving his fielding percentage to a career best .998 and throwing out a third of 45 would-be basestealers.

2014 would see Mathis slotted as Miami’s number two catcher behind new addition Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Mathis played in 64 games, starting 52 times behind the plate. He had eight multi-hit games, including on September 15th when he hit two singles, including the game-winning RBI in the top of the eighth as the Marlins set down the New York Mets, 6-5. Mathis racked up a .200/.263/.274/.537 statline with a pair of home runs and a dozen RBI, repeating his .998 fielding percentage and throwing out 16-of-49 baserunners.

This past season, Mathis went 0-for-5 over three games, striking out three times before he broke a finger on April 13th. After a rehab assignment, he rejoined the Marlins on June 5th. On September 6th, he hit a solo home run to lead off the fifth, putting the Marlins on top of the Mets, 2-1, then reached base on a swinging strikeout when Tyler Clippard threw a wild pitch. JT Realmuto scored the winning run after pinch running for Mathis in a 4-3 win. On September 25th, he hit a double and a triple for four RBI in a 12-11 win over the Atlanta Braves. Over the last month of the season, he hit .304 with three doubles, two homers, and eight RBI. He closed the campaign with a .996 fielding percentage and threw out five-of-16 basestealers over the season. Mathis is a free agent going into this offseason.

All-Time Statline: 167 games, 91-for-495, 33 runs, 18 doubles, two triples, eight home runs, 52 RBI, zero stolen bases, 42 walks, 161 strikeouts, .184/.247/.277/.524, -0.8 WAR

467. Joe Borchard

Borchard was a 6’4", 230 lb. outfielder from Panorama City, CA. Born on November 25th, 1978, he was drafted by the

Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 2000 amateur draft, with the 12th overall selection. He immediately joined the rookie-level Arizona White Sox in the Arizona League, then went 12-for-29 in seven games, with eight RBI. For the next two weeks, he joined the Winston-Salem Warthogs in the high-A Carolina League, going 15-for-52 with three doubles, two round-trippers, and seven RBI. He was rapidly pushed up to the double- A Birmingham Barons in the Southern League, where he went five-for-22 in six games.

Borchard would spend the entire 2001 campaign with the Barons, leading the team with a .295/.384/.509/.893 statline over 133 games. He scored 95 runs, hit 27 doubles, 27 home runs, and 98 RBI.

In 2002, Borchard made the jump to triple-A, playing with the Charlotte Knights in the International League and hitting .272/.349/.498/.847 in 117 games, with 35 doubles, 20 home runs, and 59 RBI. The White Sox called him up to spend the last month of the season with the parent club. In his first game, a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays, Borchard hit his first major league home run in the fourth inning, a two-run home run. A week later on September 9th, he hit a double and a home run in a 10-6 win against the Kansas City Royals.

2003 would see Borchard again spend the balance of his season with the Knights, hitting .253/.307/.398/.705 over 114 contests, with 13 home runs and 53 RBI. He played with the White Sox for parts of May and June, going nine-for-49 with a home run and five RBI.

Borchard split his time pretty much down the middle in 2004, appearing in 82 games with the Knights and hitting .266/.333/.495/.828 with 16 home runs and 48 RBI. He played in 63 games for Chicago, going 35-for-201 and hitting .174/.249/.338/.587 with nine home runs and 20 RBI. On August 30th, he hit a 503’ two-run home run at US Cellular Field, the longest home run ever hit at the home of the White Sox.

Instead of making the next step in 2005, Borchard instead played in 134 games for Charlotte, hitting .263/.335/.480/.815 with 29 home runs and 67 RBI. He only played seven games for Chicago, going five-for-12 with two doubles.

During 2006 spring training, the White Sox traded Borchard to the Seattle Mariners for Matt Thornton. He went two-for-nine in six games for Seattle, then the Marlins claimed him on waivers on May 3rd. With Florida, he started in 48 games, mostly in left field, with a few starts in right, and batted between fifth and eighth in the lineup. On May 24th, he hit a three-run blast in the fifth inning of a 9-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. On June 7th, he hit a two-run homer in the fourth, the eventual game winner in an 8-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants. On September 4th, he tagged a three-run round-tripper which changed a 5-3 Arizona Diamondback lead into a 6-5 Marlins lead. Florida eventually won, 8-5. In total, Borchard hit .230/.322/.400/.722 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI, striking out 66 times in 230 at bats.

Borchard played in 85 games for the 2007 Marlins, with four home runs and 19 RBI to go along with a .196/.287/.313/.600 statline. Florida sent him down to join the triple-A level Albequerque Dukes in the Pacific Coast League on August 6th, and he hit .355/.452/.711/1.163 in 22 games, with eight home runs and 28 RBI. He signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Braves after the season.

While in the Atlanta system in 2008, Borchard played with the triple-A Richmond Braves in the International League, appearing in 33 games and hitting .274/.346/.453/.799. 2009 would see him go five-for-42 over 12 games with the Gwinnett Braves in the IL, when Atlanta waived him in April. He would sign a free agent contract with the Giants, then join the Fresno Grizzlies in the PCL for the rest of the season, hitting .250/.294/.474/.768 with 14 home runs and 50 RBI.

2010 would see Borchard play in 125 games with the Grizzlies, and hit 17 home runs with 64 RBI, along with a .263/.340/.469/.809 statline. He was not tendered another contract for a major league team, and spent part of 2011 with the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in the Atlantic League. He hit .229/.306/.375/.681 in 24 games with the outfit, but retired from baseball on June 2nd of that year to return home to Charlotte, NC to his wife and two children.

All-Time Statline: 193 games, 88-for-409, 50 runs, 16 doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 47 RBI, four stolen bases, 49 walks, 126 strikeouts, .215/.307/.362/.669, -0.8 win shares.

466. Rob Brantly

Brantly is a 6’1", 195 lb. catcher from San Diego, CA. Born on July 14th, 1989, he was selected in the third round of the 2010 amateur draft by the Detroit Tigers. He reported immediately to the West Michigan Whitecaps in the single-A Midwest League, and hit .255/.352/.335/.687 over 52 contests.

In 2011, Brantley stayed with the Whitecaps for the first half of the minor league season, hitting .303./.366/.440/.806 with seven home runs and 44 RBI in 75 games and earning a promotion to the high-A Lakeland Tigers in the Florida State League. With Lakeland, he played in 39 contests and hit just .219/.239/.322/.561.

2012 would start with Brantly in double-A ball, with the Erie SeaWolves in the Eastern League. He played in 46 games, hitting .311/.359/.461/.820 with 24 RBI. For just over a month, he joined the Toledo MudHens in the triple-A International League, playing in 36 games and hitting .254/.295/.285/.580. On July 23rd, the Tigers sent him with Brian Flynn and Jacob Turner to the Marlins for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez. He spent two weeks with the triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, hitting 19-for-52 with two round trippers and 11 RBI. The Marlins called him up in mid-August for the rest of the season. On August 26th, he hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning for the eventual game winning RBI in a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. On September 11th, he singled and scored in the third, singled and scored in the seventh, then drew a walk in the eighth as the Marlins fell to the Philadelphia Phillies, 9-7. In total, he racked up a statline of .290/.372/.460/.832 in 31 games, with eight doubles, three home runs and eight RBI. He threw out four-of-22 baserunners from behind the plate.

In 2013, Brantly was on Miami’s opening day roster. On April 23rd, he went went three-for-five with two doubles and four RBI in an 8-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Six days later, he hit three singles in a 15-inning win over the New York Mets, including a game tying-RBI with a one out single in the bottom of the 15th. On June 8th, he played all 20 innings of a 2-1 Marlins win over the Mets, collecting four hits. As a catcher, he improved at throwing out baserunners, nailing 14-of-50 trying to steal. Over the course of the full season, hit statline dropped to .211/.263/.265/.528, with 18 RBI in 67 games. Late in the season, he ended up back with the Zephyrs, going 13-for-70 in 20 games.

2014 would see Brantly languish in triple-A with New Orleans for the entire season. He appeared in 101 games, hitting .255/.291/.341/.632 with 37 RBI. In December, the Chicago White Sox picked him off the waiver wire.

Brantley spent most of the first part of the season in 2015 with the double-A Birmingham Barons in the Southern League, where he hit .310/.337/.500/.837 in 26 games. The White Sox called him up to the major league roster on the day I’m writing this, July 27th. He went four-for-33 in 14 appearances through the rest of the season.

All-Time Statline: 98 games, 76-for-323, 25 runs, 17 doubles, zero triples, four home runs, 26 RBI, one stolen base, 28 walks, 69 strikeouts, .235/.298/.325/.623, -0.8 win shares.