With the Hot Stove Season in full swing, Fish Stripes is continuing the All-Time Marlins Countdown.
Through their first 28 seasons, the Marlins have had 630 players take the field in a regular season game. We’ve already talked about 355 of them. Chapter 61 features one current Marlin, three recent ex-Marlins, and a catcher from the inaugural campaign. Each of the players included in today’s story had between 250 and 799 PA/BF while with the Marlins, and all finished or are currently well below replacement level. Players are ranked within their PA/BF bracket by ascending brWAR divided by PA/BF.
Austin Dean Junichi Tazawa Magneuris Sierra Rob Natal
275. Austin Dean
Austin Dean is a six-foot left-fielder/first baseman from Spring, Texas. In 2012, the Marlins picked him in the fourth round out of Klein Collins HS in his hometown. Through his minor leagued development with the Marlins, Dean ranked as highly as number six in their system, according to the MLB Pipeline in 2016.
When 2018 started for Dean slashing out a .420/.466/.654 line with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns through 22 games, he was moved up to the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes before the end of April. The added degree of difficulty didn’t seem to phase Dean, the slashed .326/.397/.475 through 87 games at the new level. On August 15, the Marlins brought him up for his first look at the major league level.
In 34 games with the parent club, Dean went 25-for-113 with four doubles and four homers, along with 14 RBI. He drew seven walks, scored 16 runs, and struck out 22 times. He also logged five multi-hit games, including on August 22, when he collected his first three-hit game in a 9-3 victory over the New York Yankees.
The 2019 campaign would see Dean split the year between the Baby Cakes (73 games) and the Marlins (64 games). For the major league side of the story, Dean went 40-for-178 from the dish. He hit 14 doubles and six homers with 21 RBI, drawing nine walks, scoring 17 runs, and striking out 47 times. Six times he collected multiple hits, including April 13, when he went four-for-four with a double, a home run, and five RBI in a 10-3 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies.
In January 2020, the Marlins traded Dean to the Cardinals for minor league outfield prospect Diowill Burgos.
274. Junichi Tazawa
Pitcher Junichi Tazawa is a native of Yokohama, Japan. A five-foot-11 right-hander, he signed his first major league contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2008, at the age of 22.
Tazawa made it to the majors with Boston the next year as a starter, but put up a 2.05 WHIP over 25 1⁄3 innings. By 2012, he was exclusively a reliever. In seven years for them, he came into 302 games, going 17-20 with a 1.263 WHIP, a 3.58 ERA and 308 K’s in 312 innings. Following the 2016 season, the Red Sox granted his free agency.
Tazawa signed with the Marlins on December 16, 2016 for two years and $12 million. The 2017 season would produce less-than-desired results. He struck out 38 in 55 1⁄3 innings, with a 1.39 WHIP and a 5.69 ERA. Opponents slashed .261/.335/.431 over 238 plate appearances.
Tazawa opened 2019 with the Marlins at their parent level, and things only got worse. In 20 innings over 22 outings, he allowed 41 baserunners — a 2.050 WHIP. He gave up 20 earned runs on 28 hits and 13 walks, while batters racked up a .329/.414/.635 slashline. On May 21, the Marlins released him.
Tazawa has since signed and been released by the Detroit Tigers, the Los Angeles Angels, the Chicago Cubs (twice), and the Cincinnati Reds, appearing at the major league level for eight innings with the Angels.
273. Magneuris Sierra
Left-handed outfielder Magneuris Sierra is a five-foot-11 native of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic. In 2012, at the age of 16, Sierra signed his first pro contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Sierra got to the Marlins in 2018 in the Marcell Ozuna deal, with Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, and Daniel Castano. Once he got to the major league club, he appeared in 54 games and only hit .190, with three doubles and seven RBI. He drew six walks and struck out 39 times. His defense was also suspect, with four errors in 358 2⁄3 innings, which graded out as minus-20 defensive runs saved per season, according to Baseball Reference.
Despite that, Sierra has otherworldly speed. His 30.2 ft/s ranked third in the majors that season, although he only stole three bases in five attempts.
In a short look in 2019, Sierra was much improved, going 14-for-40 with a double and a triple. He was also perfect in 87 1⁄3 outfield innings, and seemed to get to balls that nobody had any right to expect. On September 5, in a 10-7 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, he went three-for-four with a walk.
In 19 games in 2020, Sierra was 11-for-44 with four extra base hits and perfect defense in 116 frames. Once he got to the postseason, he went 3-for-11 with a double and an RBI.
272. Rob Natal
Rob Natal is a five-foot-11 right-handed catcher from Long Beach, Calfornia. The Montreal Expos chose him in the 13th round of the 1987 draft out of the University of California.
Natal made his major league debut with Montreal in 1992, going 0-for-6 from the plate. After the season, the Marlins chose him with the 55th pick in the expansion draft. Although he was never really an integral part of the Marlins lineup at the major league level for any extended duration, he played at the parent club level in at least 10 games in each of their first four seasons. He also played in four more games in 1997.
Overall for the Marlins, Natal appeared in 115 games and slashed .201/.282/.300 with 10 doubles, three triples, four home runs, and 19 RBI. He drew 29 walks, scored 13 runs, and struck out 67 times. On August 12, 1995, Natal hit a double and a home run, collecting three RBI in a 7-3 win against the Cincinnati Reds.
Although Natal didn’t appear in the Marlins first postseason run in 1997, he was a part of the organization when they earned their ring. Florida released him on November 20.
271. Vance Worley
Right-handed pitcher Vance Worley, also known affectionately as “Vanimal,” was a 20th round pick for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2005 out of McClatchy HS in Sacramento. Instead, he matriculated to Long Beach State, where he put in three seasons of Division 1 baseball. In 2008, the Phillies again spent a draft selection on him, but instead of the 20th round, they took him in the third.
Worley got to the majors with the Phillies in 2010, and over his first seven major league seasons also appeared with the Minnesota Twins, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Baltimore Orioles. He started in 85 of his 139 appearances, going 33-30 with a 3.75 ERA and striking out 447 in 595 1⁄3 innings.
Going into the 2017 season, the Marlins signed Worley to a deal for the veterans minimum. Starting in half of his 24 appearances, he went 2-6 with a 6.91 ERA, striking out 50 in 71 2⁄3 innings with a 1.800 WHIP. He went four-for-22 from the plate, with three RBI.
Without a doubt, Worley’s best appearance for the Marlins was on August 2, in a 7-0 win over the Washington Nationals. Worley started and went seven innings, striking out three, walking zero, and allowing two hits, both singles.