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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 19

It’s the one you’ve been waiting for: Chapter 19 of the All-Time Marlins Countdown!

MLB: New York Mets at Miami Marlins Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last 18 days we’ve reviewed 123 Marlins players past and present. This series won’t stop until we’ve looked at all 630.

Today’s article features another six players, recent and not-so-recent. Each player in today’s story posted a value that was below replacement and had between 20 and 74 plate appearances and/or batters faced. The system used to rank these players dictates that each player was slightly more valuable per game-transaction by brWAR than the one before, within a particular tier.

507. Homer Bush

Homer Bush was mostly a middle infielder through his seven-year major league career. An East St. Louis native, Bush was a seventh round choice of the San Diego Padres in 1991. He was a Padres farmhand for nearly six years without any major league appearances when they traded him to the New York Yankees in the Hideki Irabu deal in April 1997. He did make his major league debut for the Bombers that year, and slashed .378/.414/.451 in 89 plate appearances over two seasons. The Yankees traded him with Graeme Lloyd and David Wells to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens prior to the 1999 campaign.

1999 would prove to be Bush’s signature campaign with the Jays, and would see him slash .320/.353/.421 with 55 RBI and 32 stolen bases in 128 contests, all career best figures. In 305 games in total for Toronto over four seasons, he hit .283/.321/.360 with 10 homers and 102 RBI and 56 stolen bases. After a lackluster start to the 2002 season, Toronto released Bush on May 10. The Marlins signed him 10 days later through free agency.

Bush played in 40 games for Florida, going 12-for-54 with five RBI. He drew three walks and struck out 13 times, stealing a base in two-of-three attempts and scoring seven runs in total. Defensively, he played 67 23 innings at second base and 14 innings at shortstop. He didn’t field a single chance at the six, but had 11 putouts and 14 assists at second, along with one error. The Marlins released him when the rosters expanded.

After sitting out the 2003 season, Bush signed with the Yankees once more, and went two-for-eight in nine games for his last major league action.

506. Logan Forsythe

Logan Forsythe is a right-handed infielder from Memphis, Tennessee. In 2008, the Padres made him their supplemental first round choice out of the University of Arkansas. Three seasons later, he debuted with the Friars, and in 228 contests over three seasons he hit .241/.310/.349 with a dozen homers and 57 RBI. He didn’t really hit his stride until after his trade to the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2014 season.

Forsythe played in 390 games in his three seasons with the Rays, and posted a 9.4 brWAR during his tenure. He hit .262/.334/.419 with 43 round-trippers and 146 RBI, and also stole 17 bases. A near-constant for Forsythe over his now-10 season career is his defensive acumen at three positions. He grades out as an MLB average first, second, and third baseman over a large sample size.

MLB: Miami Marlins at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to making his way onto the Marlins roster in 2020, Forsythe had major league stops with the Los Angles Dodgers, the Minnesota Twins, and the Texas Rangers. Just before 2020 Spring Training, he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies, but they released him prior to the belated season start date. Miami signed him when 18 players were moved to the COVID-19 list.

In 12 appearances for Miami, Forsythe went four-for-34 with a double and a homer. He played 75 13 innings of errorless ball at first and second base, and even pitched an inning (he gave up a run on two hits, a walk, and a wild pitch). He suffered a right-oblique strain at the end of August, and was placed on the 10-day injured list. He’s still a part of the Marlins 40-man roster.

505. Mauro Zarate

Right-handed pitcher Mauro Zarate was a six-foot-one prospect out of Valencia, Venezuela. In 2001, the Marlins signed him through free agency when he was still just 17-years-old.

Zarate was developed as a straight-up reliever, never starting a game at any level. He worked his way up through the Marlins minor leagues until 2007, when he was 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA for their Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes. On August 7, they called him up for his first look at the major league level. He pitched 1 13 innings against the Phillies, and allowed three runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batsman. He gave up a home run and struck one batter out.

Zarate got his second chance on September 16 against the Colorado Rockies. He entered to pitch in the fifth inning, with Florida already trailing by an 8-0 score and gave up three runs on five hits. He pitched in another two games for the club, totaling five innings of work. He allowed 11 hits and one walk for a 2.400 WHIP, and struck out three. Zarate was claimed off waivers by the Padres after the season, but didn’t return to the majors.

504. Josh D. Smith

Josh Smith, one of two such named players to appear with the Marlins in 2020, needed to include his middle initial to separate him from his namesake (Josh A. Smith). A left-handed pitcher from Kansas City, Missouri, Smith was a 25th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 out of Wichita State University. He became a rule 5 pick for the Boston Red Sox in 2016, and later led the International League with 173 strikeouts in 2018 for the Pawtucket Red Sox.

After getting granted his free agency, Smith signed with the Cleveland Indians, for whom he made his major league debut in 2019. He struck out 12 batters in 8 13 innings, but also walked eight and allowed five runs. On September 19, the Marlins had the opportunity to claim him off waivers from the Tribe.

Smith pitched in six games for the Marlins at the end of the 2019 season, striking out two and allowing four runs in 4 13 innings. In limited action this season, he whiffed four in 1 23 innings, but allowed another two runs. His six innings with the team so far has yielded exactly one run against per-inning for a 9.00 ERA. The Marlins outrighted him to the minors on September 1, releasing him outright.

503. Don Kelly

Don Kelly is an outfielder and corner infielder from Butler, Pennsylvania. In 2001, the Detroit Tigers took him in the eighth round of the draft out of Point Park University. After getting granted his free agency five years later, he signed with the Pirates and later that year made his major league debut. In 25 games for the Bucs, he went four-for-27 from the plate.

Two years later and back with the Tigers, Kelly reemerged in the majors and stuck around with Detroit for six seasons. In 544 games, he slashed .234/.297/.340 with 23 homers and 95 RBI. Kelly signed with the Marlins through free agency prior to the start of the 2015 season. He appeared in two games for Miami, going 0-for-1 from the plate when he fractured his right ring-finger, effectively ending his season aside from some rehab time with the Jupiter Hammerheads.

Kelly rejoined the Marlins proper in 2016, but played most of the season at the Triple-A level with the New Orleans Zephyrs. In 72 games he hit .198/.284/.233. Nonetheless, Kelly joined the Marlins for the month of July. In his first dozen appearances, he went one-for-22 at the plate. It wasn’t until July 27 that he put together a really solid game, going three-for-five with a pair of triples and two RBI in an 11-1 victory against Philadelphia. It was his final major league appearance.

Kelly handled 72 opportunities defensively while playing first for Miami, making zero errors and assisting in five double plays. He’s currently the bench coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates (pictured).

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

502. Brian Barden

Left-side infielder Brian Barden is a right-handed hitter out of Templeton, California. In 2002, the Arizona Diamondbacks took him in round six of the draft out of Oregon State University. Five years later, he made his big league debut with them, going six-for-35 in 23 appearances.

Arizona waived Barden on August 13, 2007, where he was claimed by the St. Louis Cardinals. Barden played the bulk of his major league career with the Redbirds, appearing in 76 games over three seasons and going 31-for-135 from the plate with four home runs and 11 RBI. After the 2009 season, the Marlins signed him through free agency.

Barden started the 2010 season with Florida at the parent club level. In 35 games, he went five-for-28 from the plate with no extra base hits and three RBI. He drew three walks and struck out a dozen times. He played 81 13 innings for them in the field between shortstop (42 innings), third base (27 13 innings) and second base (12 innings). In 36 total chances he made one error at second base and none at either other position. The rest of 2010 was spent by Barden at the Marlins Triple-A level with the Zephyrs. In 49 games he slashed .353/.407/.489.

Barden didn't get back to the majors after that, but he played minor league ball for the next three seasons for the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.