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All-Time Top 100 Marlins: #94 Ronny Paulino

Ronny Paulino and Leo Nunez, 2010
Ronny Paulino congratulates Leo Nunez after a save.

Throughout the offseason, Fish Stripes will be looking over the first quarter century of Marlins baseball, and singling out those players who stood out, the top 100 of them to be precise. Yesterday, we looked back at catcher Benito Santiago. Today, we stay behind the plate and look over Ronny Paulino’s major league career.

Paulino was a 6’3”, 250 lb. right-handed hitting and throwing catcher from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Born on April 21st, 1981, he was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a free agent in 1997.

Paulino didn’t report to Pittsburgh’s minor league system until 1999, when he joined the Gulf Coast League Pirates, in the rookie level GCL. Over 29 games, he slashed .253/.319/.410/.729, with 13 RBI and a .974 fielding percentage. The following year would see him with the single-A Hickory Crawdads, in the South Atlantic League for 88 contests. He hit .289/.354/.415/.770, with six round trippers and 39 RBI along with a .982 fielding percentage and a 36% success rate in throwing out baserunners.

Paulino joined the Lynchburg Hillcats for the better part of three seasons in the high-A Carolina League starting in 2001. Over 245 games with the club, he slashed .269/.330/.391/.721, with 19 homers and 120 RBI. He committed 24 errors in that time behind the dish, on 1,730 chances for a .986 fielding rate. He threw out 83 baserunners versus 125 stolen bases for a 39.9% throw-out rate. Finally, midway through the 2003 campaign, the Pirates promoted him to the double-A Altoona Curve, in the Eastern League.

Paulino spent the latter half of the 2003 season through the early part of the 2005 season with the Curve, playing in 188 games, and most of them behind the dish. He hit .274/.335/.443/.778 with 27 round trippers and 101 RBI during that time, and threw out a good percentage of baserunners, around 40% by my best guess (statistics are incomplete). He played a lot of the 2005 campaign at the triple-A level with the Indianapolis Indians, hitting .315/.372/.538/.911 over 77 games, with 13 homers and 42 RBI. Also in that season, he made his major league debut with the Pirates, collecting two hits over five plate appearances.

Paulino would spend parts of four seasons with the parent club in the Steel City, getting into 304 games and hitting .278/.331/.382/.713 with 49 doubles, 19 long balls and 128 RBI. He was Pittsburgh’s number one option behind the plate for the entire 2006 and 2007 seasons. As a Pirate, he logged a .990 fielding percentage over nearly 2000 chances, and threw out baserunners at slightly above the league average rate.

The 2008-09 offseason would be a time of instability for Paulino, and would see him traded to the Phillies for Jason Jaramillo, then to the San Francisco Giants for Jack Taschner, and finally on to the Marlins for Hector Correa.

John Baker was Florida’s number one catcher in 2008, but Paulino got into 80 games in total in relief of him, starting 63 times. The 87-75 Marlins went 39-41 when Paulino played and 48-34 when he did not. He had 18 multihit games, including three games with three or more. On June 14th, he went deep twice for three RBI and added a pair of singles in an 11-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays. On July 17th, he had two singles and a double with an RBI and a walk as the Fish were defeated in extra innings by the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-5. On August 26th, Paulino singled in the second, walked in the third, and hit a two-out, two-run shot in the fifth as the Marlins defeated the New York Mets, 5-3.

In total that season, Paulino hit .272/.340/.423/.762 over 266 plate appearances, with 10 doubles, eight homers, and 27 RBI. Defensively, he fielded at a .996 clip, making only two errors in 559 chances behind the plate. He threw out 31% of would-be basestealers, slightly above the NL average of 29%.

In 2010, Paulino was first on Florida’s depth chart behind the plate, and responded with a .259/.311/.354/.665 slashline, 18 doubles, four homers, and 37 RBI in 344 plate appearances. He made six errors in 697 chances for a still acceptable .991 fielding percentage, and again threw out 31% of baserunners. The Marlins went 45-46 in Paulino’s games, and 35-36 when he didn’t play. He had 18 multihit games including four three-hit efforts.

On April 10th, in just Florida’s fifth game of the season, Paulino came on to pinch hit in the ninth inning, trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by a 6-4 score. He then hit a two-run double to deep center field to tie the game, which Miami won moments later on a Jorge Cantu sacrifice fly. He fell a triple short of the cycle on May 23rd in a 13-0 drubbing of the Chicago White Sox. Paulino was granted free agency after the season.

Since then, Paulino spent a season each with the Mets (78 games, .268/.312/.351/.663) and the Baltimore Orioles (20 games, .254/.266/.302/.567). He has spent the Lion’s share of his time in the minor leagues for the Mets and the Orioles, and later for the Detroit Tigers. He’s played the last two seasons in the Mexican League, between four teams, most recently Olmecas de Tabasco just this past season.

Join us back here tomorrow for a one-shot-done pitcher for the 2015 Marlins.