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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 20

Today’s feature turns the focus to another six Marlins players you may have missed.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Miami Marlins Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

On April 5, 1993, the Florida Marlins opened their inaugural season against the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning 6-3.

In that game, 15 players became the entire list of Marlins to have appeared in a regular season game. That number has increased to 630 in the time since. We’re going over all of them. Today’s article focuses on six more Marlins from every era. The players in today’s story all have between 20 and 74 PA/BF, and came in below replacement level.

501. Hunter Cervenka

Hunter Cervenka was the 27th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2008. A left-handed pitcher from Baytown, Texas, Cervenka remained in Boston’s system until May, 2012, when they traded him to the Chicago Cubs for Marlon Byrd. Three seasons later, Cervenka was released by the Cubs, and he signed on with the Atlanta Braves.

Cervenka finally made it to the major leagues while playing for Atlanta, appearing in 50 games through the first part of the 2016 season. He struck out 35 in 34 innings, and limited the opposition to only 20 hits for a 1.265 WHIP. On August 6, the Braves traded him to the Marlins for Michael Mader and Anfernee Seymour.

Cervenka came into 18 games for Miami down the stretch, striking out seven batters in 9 13 innings. He surrendered 11 hits and five walks. On August 7, he struck out a batter in a perfect sixth inning against the Rockies, preserving an 8-6 lead in a game the Marlins eventually won, 10-7.

In 2017, Cervenka struck out six and allowed two walks and zero hits through his first 3 23 innings of work in late-July, but it didn’t hold up. He ended up walking six more through one inning of work, and although he allowed only one hit, he was also charged with eight earned runs. The Marlins released him after the season.

Cervenka hasn’t reemerged at the major league level, signing minor league deals with the Detroit Tigers, the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Baltimore Orioles in the interim.

500. Randy Knorr

Randy Knorr is a right-handed catcher from San Gabriel, California. In 1986, the Toronto Blue Jays chose him in the 10th round of the draft. Five years later, he joined the Jays at the major league level, and eventually became their main number two backstop. He played five seasons for Toronto, hitting .233/.294/.398 in 135 games, with 15 homers and 57 RBI.

Knorr signed with the Houston Astros in free agency prior to the 1996 season, and hit .200/.241/.296 in 41 games over the next two years. He signed with the Marlins for 1998. Mostly, he played at their Triple-A club, the Charlotte Knights. In 68 games he hit .328/.421/.507 with seven homers and 39 RBI. The Marlins called him up in late-August for the remainder of the season.

Knorr went 10-for-49 in 15 games for the Marlins. In his first game, on August 25, he hit a home run in his first appearance, as Florida defeated the Cardinals, 4-3. He got hits in each of his first three games, and later put together a seven-game hitting streak. In the end, he slashed .204/.216/.449 with a pair of home runs and 11 RBI. He later played for the Astros again, the Texas Rangers, and the Montreal Expos.

499. Gerald Williams

Gerald Williams is a right-handed outfielder from New Orleans. In 1987, he was a 14th round choice of the New York Yankees out of Grambling State University. Five seasons later, he made his debut with the Bombers, and he hit .243/.297/.461 through his first four major league seasons, spanning 214 games.

In 1996, Williams hit .270/.319/.433 through his first 99 games with the Yankees, then was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers with Bob Wickman for Graeme Lloyd and Ricky Bones. In 181 games through the end of the 1997 campaign, he put together a .246/.277/.353 slash line playing for the Crew. He then played two seasons for the Atlanta Braves, and a year and a half each with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Yankees. In 2003, for his age-36 season, he signed with the Marlins through free agency.

Williams played in 19 of the Marlins first 35 games in 2003, but managed only one hit in 28 plate appearances. He struck out four times, drew two walks, and collected one RBI. Sent down to the Marlins Triple-A club, the Albuquerque Isotopes for 85 games, he banged out a .303/.356/.529 line with 14 jacks. He rejoined the Fish when the roster expanded in September, and went three-for-seven in eight games, with a double and a pair of RBI. In 69 defensive innings, mostly in left field, he made 16 putouts along with one error.

Not ready to hang it up, Williams played two seasons for the New York Mets.

498. Scott McGough

Scott McGough was a fifth round pick for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011. A right-handed pitcher from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, McGough was traded to the Marlins at the 2012 trade deadline with Nathan Eovaldi for Randy Choate and Hanley Ramirez in what surely would be classified as a salary dump.

In 2013, pitching most of the season with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, McGough went 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA, along with 56 K’s in 61 23 innings. Amongst his more impressive statistics was his ability to limit free passes, with a mark of 3.11 K/BB. Unfortunately, Tommy John Surgery became necessary for McGough, who sat out the entire 2014 campaign.

Nobody wants to sit for a year, but getting it done by the best and having the rehab to follow makes it great,” McGough said. “So many guys have it now that it’s nice knowing it’s not a career-ender. - quoted from Bill Beckner Jr. at Triblive.

McGough’s rehab road would see him stop for playing time at High-A with the Jupiter Hammerheads, the Suns, and at Triple-A with the New Orleans Zephyrs. In August 2015, the Marlins called him up to the majors for the first time.

McGough got shelled in his first outing, giving up three runs on five hits in 23 of an inning as the Marlins dropped a 9-7 decision to the Philadelphia Phillies. His next four contests would produce better results, as he allowed an aggregate five hits and two walks over six innings, surrendering only one run and striking out three batters. In his final appearance of the season he gave up three more runs on two hits and two walks without retiring a batter.

Just after the start of the 2016 season, the Baltimore Orioles claimed McGough off waivers, but he did not get back to the majors. He later spent a season in the Rockies system. He’s been a free agent since December 2018.

497. Buddy Groom

Buddy Groom is a left-handed pitcher from Dallas, Texas. In 1987, the Chicago White Sox spent a 12th round pick on him out of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. After the 1990 minor league season, the Detroit Tigers drafted him from the Sox in the minor league draft. He made his major league debut with them two years later.

In parts of four seasons with the Tigers, Groom went 1-11 with three saves and a 5.96 ERA. He struck out 80 in 148 innings, and put up a 1.730 WHIP. On August 7, 1995, the Tigers traded Groom to the Marlins for a player to be named later, eventually Mike Myers (read about him in chapter 11).

Groom played in 14 games for the Marlins, and allowed over two runners to reach per inning of work. He allowed 26 hits and six walks in 15 frames, striking out 12 but also allowing as many runs for a 7.20 ERA. After his time with Florida, Groom would go on to play 10 more seasons in the major leagues. He played four seasons for the Oakland Athletics, leading the American League in 1999 with 76 appearances. He then played five seasons for the Orioles before splitting the 2005 campaign between the Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

496. Wil Cordero

Wil Cordero was a right-handed left fielder and first baseman when he played in 27 games for the 2004 Marlins. A Mayaguez, Puerto Rico native, his professional career started in 1988 when he signed with the Montreal Expos at the age of 16 in 1987.

Cordero played his first four major league seasons with the Expos, where he slashed .278/.338/.427 with 37 homers and 37 stolen bases. He made the All-Star team in the lockout shortened 1994 campaign, the only time in his career he was so honored.

Cordero later played for the Boston Red Sox (199 games), the Chicago White Sox (96 games), the Cleveland Indians (187 games), the Pittsburgh Pirates (89 games), and for a second time with the Expos (196 games). Following the 2003 season, he was granted free agency and signed a deal with Florida.

Cordero’s best stretch with the Marlins was from April 21 through May 6, when he went 11-for-35 with three doubles, a homer, and five RBI. Outside of that time, he was two-for-31 with 13 strikeouts.

Overall, Cordero hit .197 for the Marlins. Defensively, he made 109-of-110 errorless plays at first base for a .991 fielding percentage, adding another five putouts in 19 left field innings. More-or-less an average defender at this point in his career, Cordero ended up a -0.4 WAR due to his less-than-stellar offensive contribution.