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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 64

Today’s article features three pitchers and a pair of corner infielders from the Marlins earliest days until 2018.

US-BASEBALL-CARDS/MARLINS-C Photo credit should read DOUG COLLIER/AFP via Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have had 630 players take the field through their first 28 seasons.

Our offseason-long series is touching base with each of them. We’ve already taken a look at 370 of them. With 260 left, we still have 102 more chapters to get to the top. Today’s group features five players in the 250 to 799 PA/BF bracket, and they all finished the Marlins portion of their careers below replacement level, according to Baseball Reference.

260. Chris Johnson

Fort Myers native Chris Johnson is a six-foot-three third baseman. In 2003, he was taken in the 37th round of the draft by the Boston Red Sox. Instead of signing, he instead attended Stetson College for three seasons of Division 1 ball. In 2006, he hit .376/.452/.584 with 11 homers and 66 RBI in 62 contests. In the draft following the collegiate season, the Houston Astros spent a fourth round choice on him.

Johnson played three-and-a-half seasons with Houston at the major league level after debuting in 2009. He joined the Arizona Diamondbacks for the 2012 stretch run in a trade deadline deal, then spent 2013 through 2015 with the Atlanta Braves. Traded again, he joined the Cleveland Indians for the end part of 2015.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Washington Nationals/Getty Images

Released by the Tribe after that season, Johnson signed with the Marlins through free agency for the 2016 campaign. In 113 games for the parent club, he went 54-for-243 from the plate, with 11 doubles, five home runs, and 24 RBI. He drew 19 walks and scored 20 runs, striking out 78 times.

Although Johnson was drafted as a third baseman, he spent more and more time manning first base as his career went on. By the time he joined the Marlins, he played 432 23 defensive innings at first base, with a .992 fielding percentage versus only 59 innings at the hot corner (with a perfect fielding percentage).

Johnson totaled eight multi-hit games in his season with the Marlins, including on July 4, when he went three-for-five with an RBI in an 8-6 loss to the New York Mets.

259. Javy Guerra

Javy Guerra is an 11-year major league veteran right-handed pitcher. A product of Denton, Texas, Guerra was a fourth round choice off the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004. For the first 10 seasons of his professional career, Guerra played at some level of the Dodgers system, making his major league debut in 2011. Prior to the Marlins’ leg of his career, he also played with the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels.

A week before Christmas in 2016, Guerra signed a one-year contract with the Marlins through free agency. Although he made 35 of his 51 2017 appearances with the Marlins Triple-A farm club, the New Orleans Baby Cakes, he also registered a positive WAR with the parent club after getting called up in early-August.

Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Miami Marlins via Getty Images

Guerra came out of the bullpen 16 times for the Marlins that season, posting a 1-1 record with a 3.00 ERA, a 134 ERA+, and a 4.25 FIP. In 21 innings, he allowed eight runs (seven earned) on 23 hits and seven walks while striking out a dozen. Opponents slashed .288/.345/.413, while Guerra racked up a 1.429 WHIP. Maybe most impressively, Guerra managed to place 70 percent of his 320 pitches over the plate.

On August 13, Guerra picked up his only win of the season in a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Guerra inherited two runners with nobody out in the fifth inning from starter Vance Worley, and proceeded to strike out Carlos Gonzalez and induce a pop fly from Pat Valaika. After Ryan McMahon drew a walk to load the bases, Guerra got Ryan Hanigan to ground out to end the threat. He then pitched a perfect sixth, striking out a pair of Rockies.

Granted free agency following the season, the Marlins ended up extending Guerra a second one-year contract. In 2018, he spent the majority of his time with Miami, appearing in 32 games out of the pen. He again posted a 1-1 record, but this time he allowed an ERA of 5.55. The thing that gives me pause is that his FIP actually went down to 4.20, although he allowed marginally more baserunners, with a 1.519 WHIP. Guerra struck out 30 and walked a dozen, allowing 42 hits in 35 23 innings.

Guerra was again impressive in his ability to generate strikes, this time getting over the plate 67 percent of the time. He held opponents to a .292/.356/.479 slash. On August 6, he collected his lone save of the season, relieving Kyle Barraclough with the bases loaded and one out. On his second pitch, he got Yadier Molina to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

Miami didn’t extend Guerra a third contract, but he found a home with the Toronto Blue Jays and later with the Washington Nationals. Now 35-years-old, Guerra is again a free agent.

258. Nate Robertson

Six-foot-two right-handed pitcher Nate Robertson was a 35th round choice of the Chicago White Sox in 1995. A native of Wichita, Kansas, Robertson instead decided on matriculating to Wichita State University. The Southsiders were really sold on him, and spent a 15th round selection on him in 1998. After again deigning to sign, the Marlins took Robertson in round five in 1999.

In 2001, at the High-A level with the Brevard County Manatees, Robertson went 11-4 with a 2.88 ERA over 19 starts. Although he was never a top rated prospect, his results were good enough to merit a look in the majors. He got his chance in 2002, but allowed 11 runs in 8 13 innings over six outings. During the offseason, he was traded with Rob Henkel and Gary Knotts to the Detroit Tigers for Jerrod Fuell and Mark Redman.

Florida Marlins v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Robertson played at the major league level for Detroit for the next seven years, taking 168 turns in the rotation and going 51-68 with a 4.87 ERA. In 2004, he was named the American League Rookie of the Year after posting a 12-10 record with a 4.90 ERA. Just after 2010 Spring Training, the Tigers sent Robertson back to the Marlins as part of a conditional deal.

Comparatively, Robertson’s second hitch with the Marlins was much better than his first, although it was still somewhat below replacement level. He made 18 starts for Florida, along with one trip out of the bullpen, and posted a 6-8 record with a 5.47 ERA. He struck out 61 in 100 13 innings, walking 40 and allowing 110 hits (including 11 home runs). That was good for a 1.549 WHIP and an opposing slashline of .283/.354/.452.

On May 26, Robertson had his best start with the Marlins when he lasted six innings against the Atlanta Braves, allowing only an unearned run on two hits while striking out five. The Marlins eventually lost, 7-3. In late-July, Florida released him outright.

Robertson joined the Philadelphia Phillies, but only played one inning for them in what would be his last major league exposure. After that, he signed minor league deals with the Seattle Mariners, the Chicago Cubs, the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Texas Rangers before returning the Tigers in 2014.

257. Dillon Peters

Indianapolis native Dillon Peters is a five-foot-nine pitcher out of the University of Texas. In 2014, the Marlins chose him in the 10th round. He had previously been selected in the 20th round by the Cleveland Indians in 2011 out of high school, but instead played three seasons of Division 1 ball for the Longhorns. In 27 rotation turns over his final two seasons, he was 13-6 with a 2.05 ERA.

In 2016, between the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads and the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, Peters was 14-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 1.002 WHIP. The effort paid off when Peters entered the 2017 campaign as the Marlins number five prospect, according to both Baseball America and the MLB Pipeline.

Miami Marlins v Washington Nationals Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Peters made his major league debut for Miami in 2017, making six starts in September and going 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA and a 4.69 FIP. He allowed 32 hits and 19 walks in 31 13 innings for a 1.628 WHIP, striking out 27 while allowing the opposition a .271/.381/.390 slashline. Peters got 60 percent of his 519 offerings over the plate, and if he had a strength, it was in limiting his foes in extra base hits to five doubles and three homers.

For a minute there, it seemed like Peters was going to be a part of the Marlins rotation going forward. He opened the 2018 campaign as the Marlins number four starter and earned a win by holding the Cubs to no runs on six hits and one walk over six innings in a 6-0 Marlins victory on April 1. Unfortunately, he followed that up by allowing nine runs in 2 23 innings to the Phillies six days later, in a 20-1 Marlins loss.

Peters started five games for the Marlins that month, ultimately posting a 2-2 record and a 5.84 ERA. After allowing two runs in one inning of relief on May 2, he was relegated to the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes, emerging only once more on July 5 and giving up another four runs in two innings of relief. Following the campaign, the Marlins traded Peters to the Los Angeles Angels for Tyler Stevens.

256. Orestes Destrade

Orestes Destrade was the Florida Marlins first ever Opening Day first baseman. a six-foot-four native of Santiago, Cuba, Destrade was a 23rd round selection of the California Angels in 1980. He didn’t sign, and ended up inking a deal with the New York Yankees through free agency in 1981.

Destrade got to the majors with the Bombers in 1987, going five-for-19 with five walks in nine appearances. Traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Hipoleto Pena just after 1988 Spring Training, Destrade went seven-for-47 in 36 games. In 1989, he joined the Seibu Lions in Japan’s Pacific League for four seasons, where he hit 154 homers and walked more (119) than he struck out (100).

Florida Marins Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

In December 1992, Destrade signed the deal that made him an original Marlin. He ranked third on the team with 153 appearances, leading the club with 20 homers and 87 RBI. He hit .255/.324/.406 with 20 doubles and three triples, scoring 61 times. He drew 58 walks and whiffed 130 times, but also collected multiple hits on 40 occasions through the season, including 11 three-hit affairs. On May 13, he went four-for-four with a double and an RBI in a 5-4 loss to the Expos. On August 27, he accounted for most of the Marlins offense with a single, two homers, and six RBI in a 7-4 triumph over the San Francisco Giants.

Destrade appeared in 39 games for the 1994 Marlins, but only hit .208/.316/.354 with five homers and 15 RBI. Defensively over his two seasons with the Marlins, Destrade committed 24 errors, including a National League “leading” 19 in 1993, for a .986 fielding percentage.