The Miami Marlins have been around for 28 full seasons now. During that time, over 600 players have taken the field in a regular season game.
This offseason, we’re breaking down each and every one, all the way to the top. Sure, there will be some surprises along the way, but baseball is a surprising game at times. The six players featured in today’s article are from the fourth tier as described on the series hub page. That is—these six are all below replacement level and have between 20 and 74 plate appearances / batters faced. Players are ranked within their tier group (20-74 PA/BF) by brWAR per PA/BF. As such, each player is marginally better than the one before by this measure.
519. Graham Taylor
Left-handed pitcher Graham Taylor was a six-foot-three left-handed pitcher for the University of Ohio. A native of Covington, Kentucky, Florida drafted him in the 10th round back in 2006. In four seasons of Division 1 play with the Redhawks, Taylor put in a 28-16 record and a 3.32 ERA.
With the Single-A Greensboro Grasshoppers in 2007, Taylor posted an 11-3 record with a 2.68 ERA. He also walked only 18 batters while striking out 135 in 164 1⁄3 innings, leading the SAL with less than a walk per nine. He was named to the 2008 FSL All Star Team by going 11-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 22 starts.
In 2009, Taylor was mainly a part of the rotation for the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, where he was 8-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts. Promoted to the majors to start for the Marlins on April 26, his remarkable control eluded him to the tune of six walks in 3 2⁄3 innings. He struck out two and allowed four walks on four hits. He was better in his second start, when he held the Chicago Cubs to two runs in five innings on three walks and five hits. His third start, which turned out to be his last, would see him surrender eight runs in 2 1⁄3 innings, on three walks and seven hits against the Atlanta Braves.
Taylor never pitched in the majors again, although he did remain with the Marlins organization as a member of the Jacksonville Double-A squad through 2012.
518. Eric Reed
Eric Reed is a left-handed hitting and throwing centerfielder from Little Rock, Arkansas. In 2002, the Marlins took him in the ninth round of the draft out of Texas A&M University.
In 2003, Reed made the Florida State League All-Star team when he hit 300/.367/.360 and stole 54 bases in 134 games for the Jupiter Hammerheads. This resulted in him going from an unranked prospect to opening the 2004 campaign as the Marlins number seven, according to Baseball America. He spent the next couple seasons rising through the Marlins minor leagues, with stops for the Carolina Mudcats at Double-A and the Albuquerque Isotopes at Triple-A.
In 2006, Reed got his first taste of major league action when he opened the season on the Marlins major league roster. He started in eight games, coming in as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement in 34 others. By WPA, his best game was on September 9, when he came in as a pinch-runner in the bottom of the 10th inning of a 3-3 tie with the Philadelphia Phillies. He took second and third base on wild pitches, and scored the walk-off game winner on a Cody Ross single.
Overall, Reed was four-for-41 from the plate, and stole three bases in four attempts. In 2007, he added another 21 plate appearances, but only got to base three times. His resultant offensive brWAR was a dismal -0.6, although he graded out as a hair above average defensively with 37 putouts and one assist without an error, mostly in center field. The Marlins released him on April 10, 2008. He signed with the Mets a bit later, but did not get back to the major leagues.
517. Ron Tingley
Ron Tingley was a six-foot-two catcher from Presque Isle, Maine. In 1977, the San Diego Padres drafted him in the 10th round out of high school.
Tingley debuted in the majors with the Padres in 1982, and went two-for-20 in eight games. He didn’t get back to the majors until 1988 with the Cleveland Indians, for whom he went four-for-24. Finally in 1991 he got to the majors more-or-less full time, and in five seasons for the California Angels hit .198/.275/.287 with four homers and 33 RBI.
Granted free agency after the 1993 campaign, Tingley signed on to play for the second-year version of the Florida Marlins. He played in 19 games and went nine-for-52 from the plate, with three doubles, a triple, a homer, and two RBI. His best game was on June 4, when he went three-for-three from the plate, falling a homer shy of the cycle in a 4-3 win over San Diego. Defensively, he took 102 chances behind the plate in 129 1⁄3 innings, making one error. He also cut down seven-of-13 runners trying to steal. Elite, right? Unfortunately, he also led the National League with 10 passed balls despite his limited time at catcher. Miami granted his free agency at the end of June.
516. Frank Castillo
Frank Castillo was a right-handed pitcher from Bartlett Lake, Arizona. In 1987, the Chicago Cubs made him their sixth round choice, and he got to the majors for them four seasons later. He appeared in 166 games for them over seven seasons, starting in 161 of them. He was 47-62 with a 4.29 ERA, a 1.323 WHIP, and 652 K’s in 949 2⁄3 innings.
Castillo later pitched for the Colorado Rockies (6-3, 5.42), the Detroit Tigers (3-9, 6.83), the Toronto Blue Jays (10-5, 3.59), and the Boston Red Sox (16-24, 4.66). After the 2004 season, he signed with Florida for his age-36 season.
Castillo started just one game for the Marlins, on May 26 against the New York Mets. He took the lass, surrendering five earned runs on four hits and five walks in 4 1⁄3 innings. He struck out four, but he put only 55 percent of his pitches over the plate. For the Isotopes most of the year, Castillo was 9-11 with a 5.53 ERA. The Marlins released him prior to the trade deadline.
Castillo passed on too young, drowning while swimming in a lake near Phoenix, Arizona on July 28, 2013 at the age of 44.
515. Chris Valaika
Santa Monica native Chris Valaika is a right-handed infielder. In 2006, the Cincinnati Reds spent a third round choice on him out of the University of California. Four years later, he debuted with the Reds, and played in 33 games in 2010 and 2011. He hit .270/.303./381 playing second, third, and shortstop.
After spending the entirety of the 2012 season with the Reds Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats, Cincinnati granted his free agency. The Marlins signed him almost immediately afterward.
Valaika opened the 2013 season on the Marlins major league roster, and started his tenure with Miami by going two-for-four with a double and an RBI in a 4-3 loss to the New York Mets. Of his 22 games with the team, three were multi-hit affairs. He went 14-for-64 overall, with five doubles, a homer, and nine RBI. Offensively, not so bad. He also played at each of the four infield positions, and put in an errorless performance in 45 1⁄3 innings at second base. Unfortunately, he made an error each at the other three positions for an aggregate non-2B fielding percentage of .912. He fractured his left wrist on May 7, and eventually rehabbed with the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads, but did not make it back to the majors for the Marlins.
Valaika signed on with the Chicago Cubs after the season through free agency, and went on to play in a career-high 44 contests for them in 2014. It was his last look at major league action.
514. Sandy Rosario
Right-handed pitcher Sandy Rosario is a Salcedo, Dominican Republic native. He was 18-years-old when he signed his first professional deal through free agency with the Marlins in 2004. In 2010 he led the South Atlantic League with 12.20 strikeouts per nine innings while going 7-2 with a 3.60 ERA in 90 innings for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.
Also that year, he made his major league debut for the Marlins. In his first appearance, he gave up three runs in an inning of work as the Marlins lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 8-3. In his second appearance, he again gave up three runs, but didn’t retire a single batter in an eventual 11-9 victory against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two appearances were his only at the major league level that season, and resulted in a 10.000 WHIP.
2011 would be better for Rosario at the top of the food chain. He allowed Just one run in 3 2⁄3 innings for the Marlins, with two strikeouts. In 2012, while pitching at the Triple-A level for the New Orleans Zephyrs he ranked fifth in the PCL with 16 saves, pitching to a 1.04 ERA in 26 innings of work. Called up to the big leagues for a third time, Rosario allowed another six runs in three innings. In total, he surrendered 13 runs on 22 hits and three walks in 7 2⁄3 innings. The Boston Red Sox picked him off waivers from Miami after the season.
Rosario ended up spending 2013 with the San Francisco Giants, and actually pitched for them for 41 2⁄3 innings at the major league level, going 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA. He struck out 24 and finished with a WHIP of 1.392 for the Giants. It would be his last major league appearance.