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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 58

Today’s group of five are all pitchers, led by Randy Choate and Carter Capps.

Florida Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Two Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have had 630 players take the field in a regular season game.

This offseason, we’re recapping each of them, and their time spent with our favorite franchise. We’ve already looked at 340 of them. Today’s group of five all had between 75 and 249 PA/BF, finished above replacement level, and were all pitchers. Players are ranked based on brWAR divided by PA/BF.

290. Alejandro Peña

Alejandro Peña is a right-handed pitcher from Cambiaso, Dominican Republic. He signed his first professional deal in 1978, to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. After making his major league debut for them in 1981, he played his first nine seasons at baseball’s top level with them, both as part of the rotation and out of the bullpen.

After going 38-38 with a 2.92 ERA for Los Angeles with 571 strikeouts in 769 13 innings, Peña also played for the New York Mets, the Atlanta Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Boston Red Sox. On June 27, Peña signed with the Marlins through free agency.

After joining Florida, Peña struck out 21 in only 18 innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .169 batting average and walking only three. He was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA during that time, converting an incredible 68 percent of his 252 pitches for strikes.

Florida Marlins Pitcher Alejandro Pena throws the Photo credit should read ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images

Although he only appeared in 13 games for Florida, Peña racked up a 1.107 WPA, and allowed only three extra base hits. On August 10, he struck out four over two perfect relief innings, earning the win in a 3-2 victory against the Colorado Rockies.

At the trade deadline, Florida traded Peña to the Braves for a player to be named later (Chris Seelbach). After finishing that season with the Braves, Peña rejoined the Marlins in 1996 on another free agent deal.

Peña played in four games for the Marlins that year, in what would be the final appearances of his 15-season major league career. He struck out five in four innings, and allowed a pair of earned runs.

289. Henry Owens

Henry Owens is a right-handed pitcher and a native of Miami, Florida. In 2001, at the age of 22, he signed his first professional deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played his first four seasons in their feeder system before being selected by the New York Mets in the 2004 minor league draft.

In 2006, Owens came out of the bullpen 37 times for the Double-A Binghamton Mets, posting a 1.58 ERA with 74 strikeouts in 40 innings, saving 20 games and getting named an Eastern League All Star. He also made his major league debut, striking out two and allowing four runs in four innings with the Mets. After the season, they sent him with Matt Lindstrom to the Marlins for Adam Bostick.

Philadelphia Phillies v Florida Marlins Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Owens started the 2007 campaign with the Marlins, and pitched in 17 of their first 32 games of the season. He held opponents to a .225 average while posting a 1.96 ERA, with 12 strikeouts in 18 13 innings. He also went 2-0 and briefly stepped in as the team’s closer, saving four games. A right-shoulder injury landed him on the disabled list from May 9 until the beginning of June.

Owens pitched in five games for the Marlins in June, striking out four in 4 23 innings before going back on the DL for the remainder of the season. He missed the entirety of the 2008 season with the injury as well.

On November 11, 2008, Owens was suspended due to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs:

We are disappointed that Henry Owens received a positive test, and fully endorse the discipline outlined in the MLB policy. — Then-Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest

Owens returned to action in 2009 for the Marlins, pitching in 11 minor league games. They granted his free agency after the season, and he hasn’t appeared at any capacity with an affiliated organization.

288. Randy Choate

San Antonio native Randy Choate was a six-foot-one left-handed reliever, and the fifth round choice of the New York Yankees in 1997. An alum of Florida State University, Choate was 29-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 56 collegiate appearances, including 40 starts for the Seminoles. He struck out 281 in 305 13 innings for an 8.29 K/9 through three years of division 1 ball, with a 1.20 WHIP.

After making his major league debut with the Bronx Bombers in 2000, Choate spent another three seasons with the Yankees. Prior to making his way to South Florida, he also played four years for the Arizona Diamondbacks and two years for the Tampa Bay Rays. On December 15, 2010, at the age of 35, Choate signed a deal to join the Marlins through free agency.

By the time he got to the Marlins, Choate was more-or-less a specialist used to get lefties out. He pitched 24 23 innings in 54 games, which is the lowest IP/G ever recorded by a Marlins pitcher over a season (minimum 30 games). He faced only one batter 31 times, retiring that batter 24 times, and pitched more than an inning on only one occasion.

Miami Marlins v Boston Red Sox Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Choate converted strikes on 58 percent of his 427 offerings that season, generating swing-and-misses 12 percent of the time. Regardless of handedness, he kept the opposition to a slash line of .149/.275/.287, striking out 31 while allowing 13 walks and 13 hits for seven runs (but only five earned). Although he ranked fourth on the club in games pitched, he only ranked 15th in innings. Left elbow inflammation cut his season short, and he pitched his last game of the season in early-august.

In 2012, after rebranding to be known forevermore as the Miami Marlins, Choate was retained for another season. In 44 games for Miami, he struck out 27 in 25 13 innings, and allowed seven earned runs on nine walks and 16 hits. He again put up a slightly uneven slashline, with a mark of .178/.272/.211. Sixty-one percent of his 414 pitches were for strikes. He faced only one batter in 17 of his appearances, walking two and allowing two hits for an opposing success rate of 23.5 percent.

On July 25, 2012, the Marlins sent Choate with Hanley Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough. Choate pitched in 36 games for the Dodgers down the stretch, and spent the next threes seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. He retired from playing prior to Spring Training, 2017.

287. Carter Capps

Right-handed pitcher Carter Capps is a six-foot-five reliever from Kinston, North Carolina. In 2011 the Seattle Mariners took him in the third round of the draft out of the University of Mount Olive. In 2012, at the Double-A level with the Jackson Generals, Capps struck out 72 and walked only 12 in 50 innings. For his efforts, he was named a Double-A All Star, a Southern League All Star, and a First-Team Minor League All Star.

Also in 2012, Capps made his major league debut with the Mariners, striking out 28 batters and allowing 11 runs in 25 innings. He opened the 2013 campaign as the number seven prospect in Seattle’s system, according to Baseball America. He spent the season mostly at the major league level with them, pitching to a 5.49 ERA in 53 games, with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. After the season, Seattle traded him to Miami for Logan Morrison.

Capps had a unique delivery, where he hopped slightly before releasing the ball. The practice, in effect, moved him two feet closer to the plate at the time of release, making it harder for hitters to pick up the ball.

San Diego Padres v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

In 2014, Capps was recalled from the minors to join the Marlins on April 23. In nine appearances, he held opponents to a .217 average and struck out 15 in 12 frauds, converting 63 percent of his strikes with a 1.08 WHIP. He was sent to the DL on May 27 with a right elbow sprain.

After his rehab assignment, Capps rejoined the Marlins for the month of September and struck out another 10 in 8 13 innings. In 2015, he played in 30 games for the parent club, and struck out 58 in 31 innings for a nearly unfathomable 16.8 K/9. He also registered a 0.81 WHIP, allowing only 18 hits and seven walks while holding opponents to a .168/.231/.243 line and throwing strikes 69 percent of the time. Unfortunately, he was put on the DL again for a right elbow strain on August 4.

Capps avoided arbitration after signing with the Marlins on a one-year deal in January 2016, but he never appeared with the club again. He underwent elbow surgery on April 3, and on July 30, was traded to the San Diego Padres with Jarred Cosart, Luis Castillo, and Josh Naylor for Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, and Tayron Guerrero.

Capps pitched in 11 games for San Diego in 2017, racking up a 6.57 ERA in 12 13 innings while striking out only seven batters. After spending the entire 2018 campaign with their farm system, Capps was granted free agency during the offseason. Still just 30-years-old, he hasn’t signed on with another organization since, and remains available.

286. Joe Nelson

Pitcher Joe Nelson is a six-foot-two right-hander from Alameda, California. In 1996, the Atlanta Braves chose him in the fourth round of the draft out of the University of San Francisco. Five years later, he made his debut with the Braves, but surrendered eight runs over two innings. Released following the season, he signed on with the Boston Red Sox.

It took until 2004, but Nelson finally got back to the bigs with the Red Sox. Again, his output was substandard, and he allowed another five runs in 2 23 innings. After splitting 2005 between the minor league systems of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Rays, he joined the Kansas City Royals for 2006.

Florida Marlins v New York Mets Photo by: Jarrett Baker/Getty Images

Nelson finally got a good big-league season with the Royals that season. pitching in 43 games and putting up a 4.43 ERA, with nine saves and 44 K’s in 44 23 innings.

After not appearing in any organization for the 2007 season, Nelson signed with the Marlins prior to 2008 Spring Training. Although it was his age-33 season, it was inarguably his best major league campaign. He played in 59 games for Florida, holding the opposition to a .207/.291/.325 slashline and striking out 60 in 54 frames. He walked 22 and converted strikes on 62 percent of his 930 offerings, putting up a 2.00 ERA. He had his best on June 8, when he struck out four over two hitless innings of relief in a 9-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Marlins didn’t pursue Nelson for a follow-up performance, although he did later play at the major league level with the Rays in 2009 and with the Red Sox in 2010.