Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes will be counting down the Top 100 All-Time Marlins to have played with the franchise since their inception in 1993. Players are ranked by their total Wins Above Replacement, and ordered in reverse order starting at number 100. Kiko Calero, today’s Marlin, totaled 2.4 during his time with the team.
Calero was a 6’1”, 180 lb. right-handed pitcher form Santurce, Puerto Rico. Initally drafted in the 41st round of the 1994 draft by the Detroit Tigers, he was born on January 9th, 1975. After declining to sign with Detroit, he was later selected in the 27th round of the 1996 amateur draft by the Kansas City Royals, with the 799th overall selection. The only other major leaguer selected that round was Kyle Snyder, who totaled an 8-17 record and a 5.57 ERA in 93 career games for the Royals and Boston Red Sox.
For seven full seasons, Calero slogged through the Royals’ minor league feeder system, appearing mostly as a starter and amassing a 65-36 record through his climb from the low-A Spokane Indians, the double-A Wichita Wranglers, the single-A Lansing Lugnuts, the high-A Wilmington Blue Rocks, and through the triple-A Omaha Royals. After the 2002 season, he was granted free agency, and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Calero appeared in 67 games for the Cards through the next two major league seasons, going 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA, a 1.028 WHIP, and 98 whiffs in 83.2 innings pitched. After the 2004 season, Calero was traded with Daric Barton and Dan Haren from the Cardinals to the Oakland Athletics for Mark Mulder.
Calero played four seasons in Oakland, going 8-8 over 179 appearances, striking out 157 batters in 159.0 innings and racking up a 3.96 ERA and a 1.321 WHIP. After getting released by the A’s midway through the 2008 campaign, he was picked up by the Texas Rangers, but didn’t make it back to the major that season. During the following offseason, he signed with the Marlins for one-year and $500,000.
Calero, 34-years-old by the time he made it to the Marlins. Aside from two innings with the Jupiter Hammerheads, he spent the entirety of the season at the major league level with Florida. He posted a 2-2 record over 67 appearances, with a career-best 1.95 ERA and a 1.100 WHIP. He struck out 69 in 60.0 innings, and gave up only 36 hits for a ridiculous 5.4 H/9. He also gave up only one home run through the season, although he walked a fair share of batters (30). The Marlins went 29-38 when he played and 58-37 when he did not. Calero led the team in ERA, WHIP, H/9, and 10.4 K/9. Calero did not have a plate appearance during his time with the Fish, and boasted a 1.000 fielding percentage on 14 total chances.
25 of Calero’s appearances resulted in zero baserunners allowed. On April 8th, he entered the bottom of the sixth inning of a 5-2 Marlins lead over the Washington Nationals with the bases loaded and one out, then struck out Ronnie Belliard and induced Josh Bard to pop out to escape the jam. He struck out two more batters through a perfect seventh, as the Marlins eventually won, 6-4. On May 3rd, in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs, he struck out four batters in 1.2 perfect innings of relief. In an 8-7 Marlins win against the Atlanta Braves on September 2nd, he protected a 7-6 lead through 1.1 perfect relief innings, striking out Adam LaRoche.
Calero was not resigned by the Marlins, signing with the New York Mets after the season. He was released in May, picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June, and released again in July. It was his last affiliation with a major league team.
Check back tomorrow for a two-time all star starting pitcher from Pennsylvania.