We’re into the top 400 of the Marlins all-time list, and some of the players listed in today’s dispatch may not ring with familiarity.
Our goal with this offseason-long series is to touch on all 630 Marlins to have appeared through the first 28 seasons of regular season play. Today’s six players had between 75 and 249 PA/BF, and finished their Marlins’ careers with a negative brWAR.
399. Chris Narveson
Chris Narveson is a six-foot-three left-handed pitcher from Englewood, Colorado. In 2000, the St. Louis Cardinals spent a second round choice on him out of T.C. Roberson HS, in Asheville, North Carolina. In 2002, he was regarded as the number 86 prospect in all of baseball, by Baseball America.
In 2006, Narveson got to the major leagues with the Redbirds, and pitched 9 1⁄3 innings over five appearances. He allowed five runs on six hits and five walks, striking out 12 in the short look. Despite that promising first look, it would be nearly three years before he got back to the majors.
Narveson pitched five years with the Milwaukee Brewers at the major league level starting in 2009, starting in 62 of his 92 appearances. He was a main part of the rotation in 2010 and 2011, and posted a 26-18 record with a 4.65 ERA, and struck out 364 in 435 1⁄3 innings. After the 2013 campaign, he signed for a season with the Yakult Swallows in Japan. In 24 starts he was 4-11 with a 4.53 ERA. He signed with the Marlins following their regular season.
Narveson was part of the Marlins system for two seasons, mostly between the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs and the Marlins proper. in 2015, he appeared in 15 games for Miami, starting two of them and posting a 3-1 record with 32 whiffs in 30 1⁄3 innings and a solid 1.09 WHIP. It was a pretty good overall effort, aside from one bad outing on August 26 when he allowed seven runs on 3 2⁄3 innings. Taking that aberration out of the equation, Narveson allowed 17 hits and six walks while striking out 29 in 26 2⁄3 innings. Without a doubt, his best outing was on August 31, when he struck out three Braves over 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings, allowing only two singles and two walks.
Narveson’s performance merited a return engagement, and he pitched with the Marlins through April of 2016. He made six relief appearances, and allowed eight runs in 8 1⁄3 innings. Sent outright to the minors on April 25, Narveson never got back to the major league level, and pitched 2017 with the Cleveland Indians Triple-A club, the Columbus Clippers.
398. Mike Aviles
New York City native Mike Aviles was a right-handed hitting and throwing infielder when he was taken in the seventh round of the 2003 draft by the Kansas City Royals. In 2008, he got to the top level of baseball with the parent club, and in 301 games over four seasons hit .261/.317/.417 with 24 homers and 122 RBI, along with 33 stolen bases. At the 2011 trade deadline, the Royals traded Aviles to the Boston Red Sox for Kendal Volz and Yamaico Navarro.
Aviles played a season-and-a-half for Boston, followed by three years with the Indians and a 2016 campaign with the Detroit Tigers. In May, 2017, the Marlins signed him through free agency, and plugged him right in with the parent club. After going 0-for-5 in his first three games, he was sent down a level to the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes.
In 55 games with the Cakes, Aviles hit .292/.326/.376. Called back up to the Marlins on July 25, he went 20-for-81 through the rest of the season, comprising an additional 34 contests. He had multiple hits in five of them, and provided 1.000 defense between every infield position plus two innings in right field. Granted free agency following the season, Aviles has been out of affiliated ball since.
397. Jay Buente
Evansville, Indiana native Jay Buente was the Florida Marlins 14th round choice in the 2006 draft. A six-foot-two, right-handed pitcher, Buente was taken out of Purdue University, where he was a four-year letterman. In 59 Division 1 appearances for the Boilermakers, including 19 starts, he put up a 10-8 record and a 4.82 ERA with 152 K in 179 1⁄3 innings.
Buente’s rise through the minor leagues culminated in 2010 with his major league debut in eight relief appearances for Florida. Going by WPA, his best game of the season was on September 6, in game two of a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Phillies. Buente pitched two innings of scoreless relief, allowing a single and a walk.
Overall, Buente struggled to put pitches in the strike zone through his 11 innings with Florida, plating just 54 percent of his 239 offerings. He allowed 16 hits and 11 walks for a 2.455 WHIP.
In 2011, Buente spent most of the first part of the season with the Zephyrs, going 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 41 2⁄3 innings, striking out 44 batters, and putting up a 0.79 WHIP. For the Marlins, he only made one more appearance, on May 22 in a 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Buente gave up four runs in three innings, taking the loss in his lone major league start.
396. Joe Fontenot
Joe Fontenot, a Scott, Louisiana native, was the San Francisco Giants first round choice in 1995, with the 16th overall pick. A right-handed pitcher, he started the 1996 campaign as the number 96 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. He responded by going 9-4 with a 4.44 ERA in 23 starts for the imaginatively named High-A affiliate San Jose Giants.
After rocking a 5.53 ERA in 26 starts the following year for the Double-A Shreveport Captains, the Giants traded Fontenot to Florida with Mick Pageler and Mike Villano for Robb Nen. We lost that trade.
Although Fontenot started the 1998 season rated as the number 66 prospect in organized baseball, again according to Baseball America, he ran into trouble once he graduated to the majors. In his debut on May 23, a 10-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Fontenot allowed seven runs on seven hits and three walks in 3 2⁄3 innings.
Fontenot took eight turns in the rotation, and finished with an 0-7 record and a 6.33 ERA. To date, he’s the Marlins record-holder for most pitching losses without a victory. He struck out 24 in 42 2⁄3 innings, but also walked 20 and allowed 34 runs on 56 hits for a 1.78 WHIP. Of his 725 pitches with the major league team, he got 58 percent of them over for a strike.
After starting eight games for the Triple-A Calgary Cannons in 1999, Fontenot did not again appear in affiliated baseball.
395. Yadiel Rivera
Caguas, Puerto Rico native Yadiel Rivera was a ninth-round choice of the Milwaukee Brewers back in 2010. A six-foot-three left-side infielder, Rivera has proved to be a steady defender with a total of 12 errors in 676 2⁄3 innings in the field, with appearances at every infield and outfield position through his now-six-season MLB career.
Rivera made his debut with the Brewers in 2015, and hit .183 in 43 contests over parts of three years. After the 2017 season, they granted his free agency, and the Marlins signed him.
Rivera didn’t split the 2018 season at all, spending the entire campaign with the Marlins at the parent-club level. He appeared in 111 games, and hit .173/.269/.216 with one home run and nine RBI. He drew 19 walks and struck out 51 times, stealing two bases in three attempts and scoring 13 runs. On May 10, he was the big hero when he drove in Cameron Maybin with a walkoff pinch-single in the 10th inning of a 2-1 victory against the Phillies.
Defensively, Rivera played 226 2⁄3 perfect innings between third base, second base, first base, and all three outfield positions. In 93 1⁄3 innings at shortstop, he made four errors in 53 chances.
In 2019, Rivera played most of the year at the Triple-A level with the New Orleans Baby Cakes. In 34 games for Miami, he went 11-for-60 with a pair of doubles and three RBI for the Marlins, drawing six walks and striking out 20 times. He stole two bases in as many tries and scored eight times. Last season, Rivera played in four games for the Texas Rangers, going 0-for-5 but stealing a base in his only opportunity.
394. Tommy Gregg
Left-handed outfielder Tommy Gregg was a seventh-round choice of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1985 draft out of Wake Forest. He played Division 1 ball for four full seasons with the Demon Deacons, but really broke out in his senior campaign before the draft, hitting .428 and slugging .697 with 11 homers and 41 stolen bases in 48 games.
Prior to making his way to the Marlins, Gregg, played major league ball for the Bucs, the Atlanta Braves, and the Cincinnati Reds. In 361 games overall, he hit .244/.298/.357 with 14 homers and 68 RBI. He played the 1994 campaign with the Mexico City Reds. Prior to 1995 Spring Training, he signed a deal with the Florida Marlins.
In 72 games for Florida that season, Gregg went 37-for-156 from the plate, with five doubles and six home runs and 20 RBI. He drew 16 walks and struck out 33 times, stealing three bases on four attempts and scoring 20 times. On the defensive half of the equation, Gregg made 63-of-64 plays in 294 outfield innings, mostly in right field.
Gregg’s best game of that season was on May 23, when he went three-for-three with a walk, a home run, and a total of three RBI in a 6-1 victory against the Pirates. After spending 1996 with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, the Braves signed Gregg for the 1997 season. He went 5-for-19 in 13 major league games.