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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 57

A Hall of Famer headlines today’s edition of the All-Time Marlins Countdown.

MLB: Baseball Hall of Fame-Induction Ceremony, Trevor Hoffman
Trevor Hoffman, Hall of Fame inductee
Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

295. Chad Fox

Fox was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 23rd round of the 1992 Draft from Tarleton State University. He remains the only player drafted from Tarleton State University to debut in Major League Baseball.

Although all of Fox’s big league appearances were out of the bullpen, he spent the first five years of his professional career as a starting pitcher. In the 105 games he played in between 1992-1996, Fox started 94 games. The first four of those seasons were spent with the Reds, before he was traded to the Atlanta Braves prior to the 1996 season. With the Braves’ AAA team in 1996, Fox started 18 games before he was sidelined with an elbow injury which would require Tommy John surgery.

Fox would end up working his way back to the mound again, but as a relief pitcher. In 1997, he made his Major League debut with the Braves. Following his first season, the Braves traded Fox to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Less than three years after his initial Tommy John, Fox would need the procedure done again. Then, a hairline fracture in his elbow would require surgery once more to remove bone chips and insert screws, which led him to miss the entire 2000 season.

Despite his injury struggles, Fox persisted. His 2001 season with the Brewers was the best of his career. Fox held a team-leading 1.89 ERA through 66 23 innings and garnered 80 strikeouts.

Unfortunately, Fox returned to the injured list the following season on two separate occasions and the Brewers released him before the end of the year. After a short stint with the Boston Red Sox, Fox signed with the Florida Marlins as a free agent in 2003.

Fox helped the Fish in the final two months of the regular season as they pushed for a spot in the postseason. He appeared in 21 games, posting a 2.13 ERA and striking out 27. He also appeared in nine of the Marlins’ postseason games in 2003, helping the team capture its second World Series title.

Fish Stripes original GIF

Fox would end up pitching in a few games for the Marlins in 2004 and for the Chicago Cubs in 2005, but the injuries kept piling up. It would be three more years before Fox would return to the mound, but it was short-lived. Between 2008-2009, Fox appeared in 5 games. At this point, Fox was 38 and the pain in his elbow was too much to overcome.

To classify Fox as injury-prone would be an understatement. Over his career, Fox spent 1,063 days on the injured list, which 2012 Baseball Prospectus article reported was longer than any other player.

Since retiring, Fox started StrikeOne Baseball where he helps develop and train young baseball players.

294. Trevor Hoffman

The Cincinnati Reds selected Hoffman, then a shortstop at the University of Arizona, in the 11th round of the 1989 Draft.

After struggling offensively in his first two professional seasons, Hoffman was converted into a pitcher. Within two years of the transition to the mound, Hoffman worked his way up to Triple-A. The Reds, however, would let Hoffman get away.

As the Florida Marlins were gearing up for their first season in 1993, Major League Baseball held an Expansion Draft in 1992 to allow the Marlins and Colorado Rockies to build their rosters. Teams were allowed to protect a few eligible players who were deemed off limits to the Marlins and Rockies. The Reds did not protect Hoffman and the Marlins leapt at the opportunity.

With the 8th pick in the 1992 Expansion Draft, the Florida Marlins selected Trevor Hoffman from the Cincinnati Reds.

Hoffman made his Major League debut on April 6, 1993, striking out the only batter he faced. He would pitch in 28 games for the Fish in their Inaugural Season, posting a 3.28 ERA. But the Marlins, like the Reds, would let Hoffman get away, too.

Mid-way through the 1993 season, the Marlins traded Hoffman to the San Diego Padres in a five player deal that landed the Marlins Gary Sheffield, the National League’s 1992 batting champ.

Hoffman would go on to spend 16 seasons with the Padres, where he holds many Padres pitching records, including highest WAR among pitchers (25.9), lowest career ERA (2.76), and most career saves (552). The Padres retired Hoffman’s No. 51 in 2011.

Hoffman also played briefly with the Milwaukee Brewers from 2009-2010, where he wrapped up his historic career. At the time he retired, Hoffman held the all-time saves record in Major League Baseball history with 601 saves over 18 seasons.

In 2018, Hoffman was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Major League Baseball Hall of Fame 2018 Induction Ceremony
Hoffman (second from left) with fellow Baseball Hall of Fame 2018 inductees
Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NET

293. Rudy Seanez

Seanez, a pitcher from Brawley Union High School, was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 4th round of the 1986 draft. After a few seasons in their minor league system, Seanez made his debut with the Indians in 1989, tossing two no-hit innings in relief and getting three strikeouts.

Seanez would go back and forth from Cleveland’s minor league teams and the big league club for the next few seasons, before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the 1991 season. He would miss the entire 1992 season and most of the 1993 season due to a stress fracture in his back.

He appeared in three games for the San Diego Padres in 1993 in which he was asked to mop-up innings in blowout losses and 54 over the next two seasons with the Dodgers. After bouncing around the minor leagues with the Dodgers, New York Mets, and Kansas City Royals from 1996-1997, Seanez finally got some consistent playing time with the Atlanta Braves in 1998 and even appeared in five postseason games for the Braves that year.

Over three seasons with the Braves, Seanez appeared in 113 games. He collected 111 strikeouts over 110 23 innings, holding a 3.33 ERA from 1998-2000. Unfortunately, halfway through the 2000 season, an elbow injury landed him on the injured list and would require Tommy John Surgery.

After finding sparse playing time a few different teams between 2001 and the first half of 2004, Seanez was traded from the Royals to the Florida Marlins at the trade deadline. With the Marlins, Seanez allowed seven runs in 23 innings for an ERA of 2.74. He also struck out 25 batters. After the 2004 season, the Marlins granted Seanez’s request for free agency.

Between 2005 and his final season big league season in 2008, Seanez played in almost half of his career innings. Over those four seasons, he had an ERA+ of 117, the mark of an above average pitcher. Although Seanez was not on the Philadelphia Phillies’ postseason roster in 2008, he did receive a World Series ring after the Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 Fall Classic.

292. Manny Aybar

The St. Louis Cardinals signed Aybar, a 19-year-old right handed pitcher from the Dominican Republic, in 1991. Aybar slowly rose through the Cardinals minor league system as a starting pitcher and made his Major League debut in 1997.

Aybar started 26 games between 1997-1998 for the Cardinals, posting a 5.31 ERA over 137 13 innings. In these starts, he walked almost as many batters as he struck out. Aybar also made six relief appearances in 1998, where he held a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings. He also kept his walks down during these relief appearances. The Cardinals preferred Aybar out of the bullpen, where he pitched all but one game the following season. He was then dealt in a seven player trade to the Colorado Rockies, where he pitched in one game the following season.

In 15 months, starting in April, 2000, Aybar was traded four more times. The Florida Marlins received him in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds just before the 2000 trade deadline.

Manny Aybar #27

Aybar’s few months with the Marlins in 2000 was one of the best stretches of his career. Over 27.1 innings with the Fish, Aybar held a 2.63 ERA. But, similarly to his previous seasons, Aybar’s strikeout-to-walk ratio was extremely thin. With the Marlins, he walked 13 and struck out 14 batters.

He was only with the club for a few months before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs just two days before 2001’s Opening Day. By the trade deadline, Aybar was dealt again. This time, he was sent to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with a player to be named later for five-time All Star first baseman Fred McGriff.

Aybar would end up playing three more big league seasons, two with the San Francisco Giants from 2002-2003 and one with the New York Mets in 2005. He also played internationally in the Chinese Professional Baseball League, Korean Baseball Organization, and Mexican League.

291. Daniel Castano

MLB: Game One-Miami Marlins at Washington Nationals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Castano, a left-handed pitcher from Baylor University, in the 19th round of the 2016 Draft.

After a rocky season for the Cardinals’ Rookie League team in 2016, Castano found a groove with their Short-Season A team in 2017 where he tossed 91 innings over 14 starts. He had a 2.57 ERA throughout the season and held an impressive strikeout-to-walk rate of 6.23.

By the end of 2017, the Miami Marlins were all-in on rebuilding the organization. A week into December, Dee Strange-Gordon was traded to the Seattle Mariners. A few days later, Giancarlo Stanton was traded to the New York Yankees. A few days after that, Marcell Ozuna was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Christian Yelich would be dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers a month later.

Marlins fans dealt with heartbreak during this turbulent time. In hindsight, it wasn’t all bad. Some of the players we came to appreciate during this shortened 2020 season were acquired in these trades. Castano, in particular, came from the Cardinals with Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, and Magneuris Sierra.

Castano got as high as Double-A in 2019 and was invited to major league spring training in 2020. However, because of the pandemic, spring training was abruptly halted and the minor league season was eventually cancelled. Once the league set up Spring Training 2.0, the Marlins included Castano in their 60-player pool and he was later assigned to their Alternate Training Site.

But, just a few days into the season, the Marlins dealt with a COVID-19 outbreak. As many players went onto the injured list, Castano was called up from the ATS. He made his debut on Aug. 8, 2020 against the New York Mets.

Of Castano’s six starts, four of them came on a day where the Marlins were playing a doubleheader in order to make up the games that were postponed because of the outbreak.

On the final day of the season, Castano came in relief of José Ureña who was hit by a 103.9 MPH comebacker off the bat of DJ LeMahieu. (The Marlins would later learn that Ureña sustained a broken forearm and would not be available for the Wild Card series against the Chicago Cubs.) After taking over in the third inning, Castano pitched into the ninth inning. In 6.1 innings of work, Castano allowed only four hits and two walks, which held the Yankees scoreless and gave Castano his first win.

As Ely noted in his 2020 Marlins Season Review, Castano tallied the fourth-most innings for the Marlins in 2020. While there is still uncertainty surrounding the 2021 season, FanGraphs has projections using the ZiPS model for the 2021 season. Below are a few Marlins pitchers, with Castano’s projected statistics highlighted.

FanGraphs 2021 Marlins pitcher projections using ZiPS FanGraphs