On January 16th this year (and every year, really), seven former members of the Marlins extended family are celebrating their birthday, including four who played with the Marlins.
Ron Villone (48)
Ron Villone was a 6’3”, 237 lb. left-handed pitcher from Englewood, New Jersey. The Seattle Mariners chose him in the first round of the 1992 draft, with the 14th overall selection.
Villone rose quickly through Seattle’s system, stopping with the Riverside Pilots, the Jacksonville Suns, and the Tacoma Rainiers before making his debut with the Mariners in 1995. A trade deadline deal would see him sent to the Padres with Marc Newfield for Greg Keagle and Andy Benes.
Villone later appeared with the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cleveland Indians, the Cincinnati Reds, the Colorado Rockies, the Houston Astros, and the Pittsburgh Pirates before making his way back to the Astros and the Mariners in 2005. Seattle traded him to the Marlins for Yorman Bazardo and Michael Flannery in another trade-deadline deal.
Villone appeared in 27 contests for the Marlins that season, going 3-2 with a 6.85 ERA, 29 strikeouts in 23 2⁄3 innings, and a 1.52 WHIP. Villone later played with the New York Yankees, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Washington Nationals.
Lee Gardner (43)
Lee Gardner is a 6’, 219 lb. right-handed pitcher from Hartland, Michigan. Undrafted out of Central Michigan University, he was signed through free agency by the Tampa Bay Rays in 1998. He worked his way up through their system, making his debut in 2002 with the parent club. He later appeared in the organizations of the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers before signing with the Marlins in 2007.
Gardner appeared in nine games for the Isotopes in 2007, but spent most of the season with the Marlins. In 62 contests, he went 3-4 with a 1.94 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP, and 52 whiffs in 74 1⁄3 innings. He also made a few appearances with the Fish in 2008, but surrendered 14 hits and four walks in six 2⁄3 innings.
Alfredo Amezaga (40)
Alfredo Amezaga is a 5’10”, 180 lb. super-utility player from Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. The Anaheim Angels chose him in the 13th round of the 1999 draft with the 401st overall selection.
Amezaga made it to the Angels in 2002, then also appeared with the Colorado Rockies and the Pittsburgh Pirates before joining the Marlins following the 2005 season. He appeared in 437 games for the Marlins over five of the next six seasons, and has been playing with Quintana Roo in the Mexican League since.
For the Marlins, Amezaga appeared in 437 games and hit .255/.315/.339 with 42 stolen bases.
Kyle Padgett (35)
Kyle Padgett is a 6’1”, 200 lb. infielder from Boston, Massachusetts. The Marlins chose him in the 18th round of the 2005 draft with the 546th overall selection out of the College of William and Mary.
Over the next two seasons, Padgett appeared with the GCL Marlins, the Jamestown Jammers, and the Jupiter Hammerheads. Across the three levels, he racked up a slashline of .210/.272/.278 in 79 games. He played the 2007 campaign with the Independent Washington Wild Things, in the Frontier League.
Reid Brignac (32)
Reid Brignac is a 6’3”, 170 lb. lefty-batting shortstop from St. Amant, Louisiana. He was chosen in the second round of the 2004 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 45th overall selection out of St. Amant HS.
Brignac made his first big-league appearance with the Rays in 2008, and was splitting time between the Rays and the Durham Bulls for the next five seasons. He played in 256 games for the Rays, slashing .227/.268/.317 with 10 homers and 67 RBI. He later appeared with the Colorado Rockies, the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Phillies before signing with the Marlins through free agency after the 2014 season.
Brignac slashed .268/.348/.375 in 93 contests for the New Orleans Zephyrs through the 2015 campaign, with five homers and 37 RBI playing mostly at second base. He also made 17 appearances for the Marlins, going 1-for-13 with three walks and two runs. He signed with the Atlanta Braves following the season, and later yet signed on with the Houston Astros.
Alonzo Harris (29)
Alonzo Harris is a 6’, 170 lb. outfielder from Cleveland, Mississippi, but he was drafted by the New York Mets in the 39th round of the 2007 draft as a second baseman. They took him with the 1,190th overall pick, out of McComb HS.
After six seasons of toiling away in the Mets’ minor league system culminated with a .218/.285/.305 slashline for the double-A Binghamton Mets in 2013, he was signed to a contract with the Marlins through free agency. He went three-for-32 with a double, a triple, and four RBI in 11 games for the Jupiter Hammerheads before getting released a few weeks later.
Harris then spent two seasons with the St. Paul Saints in the American Association, where he slashed .299/.348/.463 over 183 games.
Nick Grim (27)
Nick Grim is a 6’3”, 190 lb. right-handed pitcher from Salinas, California. He was chosen in the 17th round of the 2012 draft by the Baltimore Orioles with the 522nd overall pick out of Cal Poly Tech.
Grim posted an 11.74 ERA over 7.2 innings in the Orioles system, with the GCL Orioles. Two years after his outright release, the Marlins signed him to play with the GCL Marlins, where he walked three batters over 1 1⁄3 hitless innings in two games. That was the last time he played in an affiliated setting, playing 2015 with the Rockford Aviators in the Frontier League.
Thanks for reading. Check back tomorrow for another dose of Marlins history.