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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 71

Today’s countdown consists of four former Marlins pitchers

Florida Marlins’ Byung-Hyun Kim pitches in the first inning
Byung-Hyun Kim pitching for the Marlins during the 2007 season
Photo by Joe Rimkus Jr./Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

230. Blaine Neil

Marlins Photo Day, Blaine Neal Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

The Florida Marlins drafted Neal, a right-handed pitcher from a New Jersey high school, in the fourth round of the 1996 Draft. After working his way up through the Marlins minor league system, Neal made his major league debut toward the end of the 2001 season.

Neal started the 2002 season with the Triple-A Calgary Cannons, but would join the Marlins and pitch in 32 games for the Fish as a reliever, posting a 2.73 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 14 walks.

Neal, who made the Marlins Opening Day roster in 2003, had a rocky start. In the nine games he appeared in April, Neal held a 8.38 ERA while opposing batters slashed .413/.471/.565. He would end up pitching a few games for the Marlins in May, June, and September, but spent most of his 2003 season in Triple-A.

Just before the start of the 2004 season, the Marlins traded Neal to the San Diego Padres for young right-hander Ben Howard. He would be traded a year later to the Boston Red Sox for former first round pick, Adam Hyzdu. After a rough eight game stretch with the Red Sox, Neal with claimed off of waivers by the Colorado Rockies. A notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field was not kind to Neal, who allowed 6 runs on 11 hits in 7 innings in relief at his home ballpark. He allowed an average of more than two walks and hits per inning at Coors, for a 7.36 ERA. The five away games he appeared did not go much better, and Neal was granted free agency at the conclusion of the 2005 season.

Neal would sign a few minor league deals and play for four different teams in four seasons. While he did not make it back to the major leagues, Neal pitched for Team USA in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where Team USA won a Bronze Medal.

US closing pitcher Blaine Neal at Beijing Olympics OMAR TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

229. Yorkis Pérez

The Minnesota Twins signed Pérez, a 15-year-old lefthanded pitcher, from the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent in 1983. Pérez played four games for the Twins’ rookie ball team from 1983-1984 and spent the 1985 season playing in the Dominican Republic. After his first full minor league season in 1986, the Twins traded Pérez to the Montreal Expos in a six player deal headlined by the Twins acquisition of All-Star reliever Jeff Reardon.

After four seasons, Pérez got as high as Triple-A with the Expos but was granted free agency after the 1990 season where he signed with the Atlanta Braves. In the final stretch of the 1991 regular season, Pérez was traded to the Chicago Cubs. The next day—his 24th birthday—Pérez made his major league debut, where he entered a two-out, bases-loaded jam. He struck out batter Darrin Fletcher on seven pitches to end the inning.

After the Cubs released Pérez in the winter of 1991, he briefly played in the Japan Central League for the Yomiuri Giants. Upon returning to the United States, Pérez bounced around with a few teams before signing with the Florida Marlins for the 1994 season.

Yorkis Pérez

With the Marlins, Pérez appeared in 177 games out of the bullpen. In his first season with the Marlins, Pérez posted a 3.54 ERA that proved to be 24% better than league average (124 ERA+). In his 1995 and 1996 season with the Fish, Pérez’s ERA was north of 5.00 and he was traded to the Braves after the 1996 season.

After leaving the Marlins, Pérez spent time with seven different teams across six seasons, appearing in relief for the New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros, and Baltimore Orioles. He also represented his home country in the 2003 Pan American Games.

228. Guillermo Mota

Florida Marlins v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Photo by Stephen Dunn /Getty Images

The New York Mets signed Mota, then an infielder, in 1990 as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic. By 1996, Mota was still in the Mets minor league system and the Montreal Expos drafted him in the 1996 Rule V Draft. Mota was converted into a pitcher during his first season with the Expos.

Mota made his major league debut with the Expos in 1999, collecting two strikeouts in one inning of work. Later on in the season, Mota stepped into the batter’s box for the first time in his major league career and hit a home run. Over three seasons in Montreal, he pitched in 133 games and held a 4.47 ERA. Just before the 2002 season, Mota was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers where he played for two and a half seasons.

While Spring Training is normally a relaxed atmosphere, tensions flared in consecutive springs between the Dodgers and Mets. While on the mound for the Dodgers in 2002, Mota hit Mets’ catcher Mike Piazza with a pitch and Piazza would end up grabbing Mota by the neck as he walked off the mound. The following spring, in 2003, Mota again hit Piazza with a pitch, this time coming close to Piazza’s head. He charged at Mota and a brawl ensued.

Mota would play into the 2004 season with the Dodgers, before being traded to the Florida Marlins at the trade deadline. The Dodgers sent Mota, along with Juan Encarnación and Paul Lo Duca, to the Marlins. The Dodgers received three players, most notably the Marlins’ World Series Game 1 starter, Brad Penny.

In a season and a half with the Marlins, Mota made 82 appearances and held a 4.74 ERA. Although his usual role was as a set-up man, Mota also collected five saves for the Fish. After the 2005 season, the Marlins traded Mota, Josh Beckett, and Mike Lowell to the Boston Red Sox for Hanley Ramírez, Aníbal Sánchez, and two young pitchers.

After leaving the Marlins, Mota bounced between a few teams before he settled in with the San Francisco Giants for the last three seasons of his career. Mota was a part of the Giants’ World Series champion squad in 2010. He appeared in two games. In 2012, Mota was suspended 100 games for his second violation of MLB’s Drug Policy. He returned to the Giants upon completing his suspension and appeared in three playoff games. The Giants would go on to win their second World Series title in three years, but he did not appear in the final series.

227. Byung-Hyun Kim

Kim, a native of South Korea, found success on the mound as a pitcher. He played on the South Korean team in each of the 1995 World Junior Championship, 1998 Baseball World Cup, and 1998 Asian Games. In 1999, Kim signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an amateur free agent.

In his first minor league season, Kim quickly impressed the Diamondbacks. In 22 games across Double-A and Triple-A, Kim went 53 innings where he allowed 25 walks and struck out 74 batters with an ERA of 2.19. Just three months after he was signed, Kim made his major league debut on May 29, 1999. He entered with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and retired the three batters he faced, garnering one strikeout and collecting a save.

During the 2001 season, Kim held down a 2.94 ERA over 98 innings to help the Diamondbacks secure first place the NL West. Kim would appear in six playoff games for the Diamondbacks in 2001. He collected one save in the NLDS and two more in the NLCS, but got roughed up by the New York Yankees in Games 4 and 5 of the World Series. Despite his World Series struggles, the Diamondbacks would in the 2001 World Series in seven games. Kim made history as the first Korean-born baseball player to win a World Series.

Another notable moment for Kim in a Diamondbacks uniform came in the 2002 season, where he struck out three batters on nine pitches. He became the 32nd pitcher in Major League Baseball history to throw an immaculate inning. He was also named to the National League All-Star team in 2002.

But seven games into the 2003 season, the Diamondbacks traded Kim to the Boston Red Sox. Kim pitched well for the Red Sox during the regular season, but didn’t make any friends with the hometown fans when he flipped off the booing crowd during pregame introductions.

Before the 2005 season, the Red Sox traded Kim to the Colorado Rockies for former Marlins catcher Charles Johnson. While with the Rockies in 2006, Kim gave up Barry Bonds’ 715th career home run which moved him past Babe Ruth and into second place on the all-time home run list.

The Rockies traded Kim to the Marlins during the 2007 season, which would end up being his last season in Major League Baseball. He appeared in 23 games for the Marlins, holding a 5.42 ERA over 109 innings. After the 2007 season, Kim was granted free agency.

After his 2007 season with the Marlins, Kim spent time playing in the Golden Baseball (Independent) League, Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization, South Korea’s KBO League, and the Australian Baseball League.