Every January 23rd, 13 former members of the Florida/Miami Marlins minor league feeder system enjoy their birthday. Do you remember any of these guys?
Chad James (27)
James was a 6’3”, 190 lb. left-handed pitcher from Yukon, Oklahoma. He was chosen by the Marlins in the first round of the 2009 draft with the 18th overall selection out of Yukon HS.
James jumped directly to the Greensboro Grasshoppers, where he went 5-10 with a 5.12 ERA as a 19-year-old rookie. He had a 1.58 WHIP and 105 K’s in 114 1⁄3 innings. For the Jupiter Hammerheads in 2010, he was 5-15 with an ERA better by over a run, at 3.80. He had a 1.50 WHIP and struck out 124 batters in 149 1⁄3 innings.
Unfortunately for James, that was pretty much his best season in the pros. He went 6-10 for the Hammerheads in 2011, posting a 4.87 ERA, a 1.64 WHIP, and striking out 80 in 114 2⁄3 innings. He was relegated back to the Hoppers in 2013, and responded with a 2-6 record in 13 starts, with a 5.74 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP, and 57 K’s in 53 1⁄3 innings. He later played a pair of seasons in the Texas Rangers’ organization, between the Myrtle Beach Pelicans and the Frisco RoughRiders.
David Cruz (26)
David Cruz is a 6’, 201 lb. catcher from Miami, Florida. The Marlins took him in the 30th round of the 2012 draft out of Southwest Miami HS, 917th overall off the board.
Cruz made his pro debut later that year with the GCL Marlins, for whom he went 7-for-46 in 20 games, with six RBI. He remained with GCL in 2013, and was 10-for-37 with three homer runs and eight RBI. Out of affiliated ball in 2014, he played a season for the Evansville Otters in the independent Frontier League.
Ricardo Hernandez (30)
Hernandez was a 6’4”, 185 lb left-handed pitcher from Caracas, Venezuela. Undrafted, he joined the GCL Marlins in 2008 as a free agent. He started once and came out of the bullpen 14 times for a 0-1 record and a 2.70 ERA, 27 K’s in 23 1⁄3 innings, and a solid 1.11 WHIP to close out that campaign. With GCL again in 2009, he was 2-1 with a 1.10 ERA and 24 K’s in 32 2⁄3 innings and a 0.83 WHIP. The good work would see him in Jupiter with the Hammerheads, but he only got one of three batters out in his high-A career.
Jason Stokes (36)
Stokes is a 6’4”, 225 lb. first baseman from Irving, Texas. The Marlins chose him in the second round of the 2000 draft with the 41st overall selection out of Coppell HS.
For the Utica Blue Sox in 2001, Stokes joined the team as Florida’s #8 prospect, and slashed .231/.299/.400, with six homers and 19 RBI in 35 games. He took a step up to the Kane County Cougars in 2002, and in 97 contests slashed .341/.421/.645, with 27 homers and 75 RBI.
In 2003, Stokes was regarded as the #15 prospect in all of major league baseball, and Florida’s #2 overall. As a Jupiter Hammerhead, he slashed .258/.312/.448 with 17 round-trippers and 89 RBI in 121 games. The following year with the Carolina Mudcats, he slashed .272/.345/.514 in 106 games, with 23 dingers and 78 RBI. He still looked like a can’t-miss prospect, and was still ranked as MLB’s #51 overall and Miami’s #2.
In 2005, Stokes was promoted to the Albuquerque Isotopes, and went 13-for-46 in 13 games, but missed most of the season with an injury. No longer ranked, he slashed .257/.350/.418 in 2006 with the Isotopes, and was traded to the Oakland Athletics for John Baker prior to the 2007 campaign. He played in 18 games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, and didn’t appear in affiliated ball again. In 2010, he resurfaced for 22 games with the Grand Prairie AirHogs in the American Association.
Charlie Greene (47)
Greene was a 6’2”, 170 lb. catcher from Miami, Florida. In 1991, the San Diego Padres chose him in the 19th round of the draft, with the 497th pick out of Miami-Dade College.
Over the next 11 seasons, Greene appeared in the organizations of the Padres, the New York Mets, the Baltimore Orioles, the Milwaukee Brewers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Atlanta Braves, with major league stops for the Mets, Orioles, Brewers, and Jays.
In 2002, Greene signed through free agency for the Marlins, and appeared in 99 games for the Calgary Cannons. He slashed .250/.283/.391 with seven homers and 41 RBI. His next season would be his final in professional ball, appearing in six games for the Durham Bulls of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays organization.
Osmani Estrada (49)
Estrada was a 5’8”, 150 lb. infielder from Havana, Cuba. The Texas Rangers chose him in the 12th round in 1993, 339th off the board.
Estrada spent the next five seasons progressing through Texas’ minor league system, culminating with the Oklahoma City 89ers in 1998. He joined the Charlotte Knights partway through the season, and in eight games went seven-for-27 with three RBI. After two seasons in which he didn’t play anywhere, he would slash .211/.274/.272 in 28 games with the Saltillo Saraperos in 2001.
Nick Rizzo (44)
Rizzo was a 5’10”, 180 lb. right-handed pitcher from Voorhees, New Jersey. After going undrafted out of Drexel University, he joined the Utica Blue Sox as free agent in 1997. He started 10 games and came out of the pen an additional five times, posting a 4-1 record with a 2.36 ERA, 54 whiffs in 68 2⁄3 innings, and a 1.11 WHIP.
In 1998, Rizzo split his time between the Brevard County Manatees and the Kane County Cougars, going 5-2 with a 2.41 ERA, a 1.310 WHIP, and 40 K’s in 71 innings, all out of the bullpen.
Kevin Ryan (39)
Ryan was a 6’3”, 200 lb. right-handed pitcher from Elmhurst, Illinois. The Marlins picked him in the 28th round in 1998, 850th overall out of York HS. He didn’t sign, and eventually appeared in 14 games for the Eugene Emeralds in 2002, putting up a 13.50 ERA in 14 innings with a 3.07 WHIP.
John Massarelli (52)
Massarelli was a 6’2”, 200 lb. catcher from Canton, Ohio. He was originally selected in the eighth round of the 1987 draft by the Houston Astros, 210th off the board out of the University of Akron.
For the next seven seasons, Massarelli worked his way up through Houston’s minor league feeder system, making the switch to the outfield in 1992. In 1993, he slashed .281/.353/.381 in 114 games, with 37 stolen bases for the triple-A Tuscon Toros.
Massarelli joined the Edmonton Trappers for the 1994 season. In 120 games, he slashed .261/.315/.382 with 39 stolen bases and a PCL leading 10 triples. The following season, in a step down from AAA, he slashed .244/.318/.311 for the Charlotte Knights in 65 games.
Massarelli later appeared with the Cleveland Indians’ and the San Diego Padres’ minor league teams.
Mark Watson (44)
Watson was a 6’4”, 235 lb. left-handed pitcher from Atlanta, Georgia. The Marlins made him their eighth round pick in 1995, 205th overall out of Clemson, but were not able to come to terms. Watson then played a season for the Georgia Bulldogs, where he was 1-4 with an 8.43 ERA in 18 games.
Watson did eventually play affiliated ball, pitching in 327 minor league games over the next 11 years, and even making major league appearances with the Cleveland Indians, the Seattle Mariners, and the Cincinnati Reds totaling 11 games. He also appeared in the systems for the Milwaukee Brewers, the Chicago Cubs, the Colorado Rockies, the Anaheim Angels, and the Oakland Athletics.
Don Tynon (47)
Tynon was a 6’, 193 lb. right-handed pitcher from Lakewood, California. After going undrafted out of St. Mary’s College in CA, the Marlins signed him to a minor league deal. He appeared in 24 games for the Elmira Pioneers in 1994, going 5-2 with a 5.49 ERA, 29 K’s in 41 innings, and a 1.61 WHIP. Tynon didn’t again appear in affiliated baseball.
Allen Stalvey (43)
Stalvey was a 5’11”, 185 lb. outfielder from Lake City, Florida. The Marlins chose him in the 78th round in 1993, with the 1,686th pick off the board out of Columbia HS. He never signed, and never appeared in pro or semi-pro ball.
Thanks for reading a little about Marlins’ history, and if your birthday is also January 23rd, then Happy Birthday to you as well. Join us tomorrow for a (much smaller) slice of the past.