The Florida and Miami Marlins have employed a total of 630 players through their first 28 season of operation.
We’re breaking all of them down here at Fish Stripes. The following seven players are from the fourth tier as explained on the hub page. That is — these players all have between 20 and 74 plate appearances / batters faced, and all are below replacement level.
546. Alex Vesia
A lot was expected of Alex Vesia after what he has accomplished through his first two seasons of professional ball. A six-foot-one left-handed reliever from Alpine, California, Vesia was taken by the Marlins in the 17th round of the 2018 draft out of California State University.
Vesia totaled exactly 100 innings of minor league work, with stops at the Rookie level, with the GCL Marlins, the Short-Season-A level, with the Batavia Muckdogs, the Low-A level, with the Clinton LumberKings, the High-A level, with the Jupiter Hammerheads, and at Double-A with the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. He totaled 138 strikeouts while pitching to a 1.010 WHIP in total. The second half of 2019 in particular shone a lot of light on Vesia’s talents. He whiffed 49 and walked two over 35 innings between the Shrimp and the Sharks, allowing only 20 hits and four earned runs.
Vesia was fast-tracked to the Marlins for a very good reason — his obvious talent and his track record since getting drafted. The COVID-19 outbreak would have made it even more of a no-brainer, if Vesia wasn’t one of the 18 Marlins players affected. Prior to going on the 10-day injured list, he made his major league debut and allowed two runs in 2⁄3 of an inning.
After coming off the list, Vesia’s results were no better. In 4 1⁄3 innings in total, he allowed 10 runs on seven hits and seven walks. He did strike out five, but three of the seven hits he allowed were home runs. In the majors, he placed only 57 percent of his pitches in the strike zone.
We should know to take Vesia’s curtailed debut with a grain of salt. His dominance over most levels of the minors leads me to believe that he can succeed at the major league level.
545. Jesús Sánchez
Jesús Sánchez is a lefty batting right fielder from Higuey, Dominican Republic. He signed his first pro contract in 2014 with the Tampa Bay Rays at the age of 16.
In 464 minor league appearances previous to his major league debut, Sánchez totaled 50 homers and 304 RBI, slashing .296/.342/.459. A highly ranked prospect since 2017 in Baseball America, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and the MLB Pipeline, he was BP’s number 32 overall prospect going into 2019. On July 31 last year, the Rays sent Sánchez with Ryne Stanek to the Marlins for Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards.
After joining Miami’s system, Sánchez played with the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes for 17 games. He hit .246/.338/.446 with four home runs and nine RBI. The COVID-19 ravaged Marlins called on him ahead of his projected arrival on August 21. Sánchez appears in 10 of Miami’s next 12 games, getting plenty of work in right field but only totaling one hit in 29 plate appearances. He struck out 11 times and drew four walks, scoring a run and knocking two in. In 66 defensive innings of work in right field, he made 17 putouts and also committed one error.
544. Luis Ayala
Luis Ayala is a right-handed pitcher from Los Mochis, Mexico. Undrafted by the majors, his contract was purchased by the Colorado Rockies while he was playing for Saltillo in the Mexican League in 1999.
Ayala made his major league debut in 2003 while pitching for the Montreal Expos. In 339 games for the Expos/Nationals and the New York Mets between then and 2008, Ayala was 28-34 with 18 saves and a 3.44 ERA. He struck out 227 in 350 1⁄3 innings of work, holding opposing batters to a 1.253 WHIP.
In 2009, Ayala started the season out with the Minnesota Twins, where he pitched to a 4.18 ERA and a 1.423 WHIP in 32 1⁄3 innings. A day after the Twins released him on July 2, the Marlins signed him through free agency.
Ayala pitched in 10 contests for the Marlins, allowing a dozen hits and walking six in 7 2⁄3 innings. The 11.74 ERA resulting from Ayala’s appearances were more than double the runs he gave up in any full major league season, before or after. Whatever the reason, the Marlins granted his free agency just over two months after they signed him.
After leaving the Marlins, Ayala went on to pitch three more seasons for the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles, and the Atlanta Braves. He struck out 112 in 164 innings, going 9-8 with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.323 WHIP, making his last appearance in 2013.
543. Héctor Luna
Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic native Héctor Luna is a second baseman and outfielder. He signed his first pro contract through free agency with the Cleveland Indians on Groundhog’s Day, 1999, a day after his 19th birthday.
Prior to making a major league appearance, Luna was drafted off the Indians by the Rays in 2002, then returned. The following year, he was taken in the rule 5 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, where he got into the majors.
Luna played in 223 games for the Redbirds over the next three seasons, hitting .276/.336/.398. Traded back to the Indians once more in mid-2006, he later joined the Toronto Blue Jays. Unable to maintain a major league roster spot, he spent 2009 in the Los Angeles Dodgers minor league system, mostly with the Albuquerque Isotopes. He slashed a really healthy .351/.414/.610 line in 91 games at that level at the age of 29.
The Marlins apparently saw enough of Luna to give him another shot, and they signed him in November 2009. In 97 games with the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, he slashed out a .294/.367/.477 line. In August, he was called to join the major league club for what turned out to be the remainder of the season. Although he was just four-for-29 from the plate with 13 strikeouts, his tenure with the Marlins was not without its moments. Two of his four hits were home runs, and he did have a multi-hit game on August 20 in a 9-0 win over the Houston Astros. In 21 2⁄3 innings in the field, he took nine errorless chances at second and third base.
Florida didn’t retain Luna’s services past the 2010 campaign. He eventually resurfaced in 2012 with the Philadelphia Phillies for his last major league exposure, going 14-for-62 in 28 games.
542. Frankie De La Cruz
Right-handed pitcher Frankie De La Cruz is a veteran of four major league seasons with four major league clubs between 2007 and 2011. He was initially signed by the Detroit Tigers in 2001 at the age of 17.
De La Cruz allowed 14 baserunners in 6 2⁄3 innings for the Tigers when he debuted with them, and eight of them scored. After the season, the Tigers traded him with Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, and Mike Rabelo for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
During De La Cruz’ stay in the Marlins organization, he was mostly part of the rotation for their Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. In 25 starts, he was 13-8 with a 4.34 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 147 1⁄3 innings. Called up for a spot-start in the second game of a doubleheader against the San Francisco Giants on May 25, he walked four and gave up two runs on two hits over just three innings. In his next appearance, in relief a month later against the Rays, he allowed six runs without recording an out.
In four more appearances De La Cruz’ seasonal ERA didn’t again drop below 13.50. In nine innings for the Marlins, he surrendered 18 earned runs on 15 hits and 11 walks. He only struck out four. At the plate, he struck out in both of his at bats, and he took five errorless defensive chances.
De La Cruz played in the majors again for the San Diego Padres the following season, and with the Milwaukee Brewers two seasons later. The bottom line after pitching 32 innings of major league ball was an 8.16 ERA and more walks (26) than strikeouts (20).
541. Scott Pose
Scott Pose was the Inaugural Opening Day center fielder for the Florida Marlins, and had their first ever plate appearance in franchise history. A lefty batting, righty throwing native of Davenport, Iowa, Pose was a 34th round choice of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1989 draft, and Pose’s plate appearance was his major league debut.
Pose became a part of the Marlins as a result of their participation in the 1992 rule 5 draft off of the Reds, before the former ever took the field at the major league level. He started his career with a six-game hitting streak, going eight-for-26 with two walks, two doubles, and three RBI. He only struck out twice, and amazingly, managed not to score a run.
Unfortunately, Pose couldn’t keep that level of success through the rest of his Marlins career. In fact, he didn’t again reach base safely through his next 15 plate appearances, which turned out to be his last with the club. Optioned down to the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers, he hit .284/.353/.334 in 109 games with 19 stolen bases in 28 attempts.
We saw the best of Scott Pose and the worst of Scott Pose. You can call it a snap judgement if you want, but it was a judgement. The more he came off the bench, the more he pressed. We weren’t doing Scott Pose any service or ourselves a service by keeping him here. – Marlins manager Rene Lachemann, quoted by Gordon Edes in the Sun Sentinel
Pose did later regain the major league level, but it took him awhile. He played with the New York Yankees in 1997, hitting .218 in 54 games, then with the Kansas City Royals in 1999 and 2000, for whom he slashed .259/.352/.276 in 133 contests.
540. Jacque Jones
Jacque Jones is a left-handed hitting outfielder from San Diego, California. Drafted on two separate occasions, he was most recently taken in the second round of the 1996 draft by the Twins. He made his major league debut with them three seasons later and played seven years with the team.
Jones hit .279/.327/.455 with 132 homers and 476 RBI in 976 games for Minnesota, playing in all three outfield spots as needed. Two seasons with the Chicago Cubs yielded a .285/.335/.453 line with another 32 jacks and 147 RBI in 284 contests. Before the 2007 season, the Cubs traded Jones to the Detroit Tigers for Omar Infante. After a 13-for-90 start, Detroit released him outright on May 13.
Six days later, the Marlins signed Jones to a deal. They played him in 18 games in total, and watched as he went four-for-37 with no extra base hits, no stolen base attempts, and only two RBI. He drew six walks and struck out eight times. As with the Twins, he played in each of the three outfield positions as needed, racking up 20 putouts and zero errors in 75 innings of defense. Florida granted his free agency just over a month later.
Jones later signed with the Reds and again with the Twins, but didn’t again make it back to the major league level.