Every day through the 2020-21 offseason, Fish Stripes is bringing you the All-Time Marlins Countdown.
We’ve covered 285 of them since the end of the season, and we still have 345 to go. Today’s group of five Marlins had between 75 and 249 plate appearances/batters faced while with the team, and finished either just below or right at replacement level, according to Baseball Reference.
345. Jeff Brigham
Jeff Brigham is a six-foot right-handed pitcher from Federal Way, Washington. Before turning professional, he played his collegiate ball for the University of Washington. He really stood out in his final season, going 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 16 starts for the Huskies. At first a pitcher who relied on finesse over power, Brigham only struck out 45 in 90 innings that year, but turned in a solid 1.13 WHIP.
In the 2014 draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers chose Brigham in the fourth round. After a year-and-a-half in their minor league system, he was involved in a three team trade between the Dodgers, the Marlins, and the Atlanta Braves. A dozen players and a draft pick were exchanged in the deal, and Brigham joined the Marlins system.
By 2017, Brigham was ranked as high as the number 18 prospect in the Marlins system by MLB Pipeline. He responded by posting a 4-2 record with a 2.90 ERA over 11 starts, with 53 whiffs in 59 innings and a 1.17 WHIP for the High-A Jupiter Hammerheads.
The 2018 campaign would see Brigham appear at three different levels of the Marlins feeder system, and also make his major league debut. He joined the rotation for four starts in September after the rosters expanded, but put up an 0-4 record with his efforts. He struck out 12 in 16 1⁄3 innings but also walked 13 and surrendered 11 runs on 16 hits.
In 2019, Brigham played in 32 games at the parent level with the Marlins, and posted a 4.46 ERA and 39 K’s in 38 1⁄3 innings. On September 12, he struck out a pair of Milwaukee Brewers over three perfect innings of relief in an eventual 3-2 Miami loss.
In 2020, Brigham made one appearance for Miami, allowing one run in one inning against the Philadelphia Phillies in an 11-6 Marlins win on July 26. He went on the injured list for undisclosed reasons on August 4, likely due to COVID-19. Activated after the close of the season, Brigham still remains on the Marlins 40-man roster.
344. Todd Wellemeyer
Todd Wellemeyer is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Louisville, Kentucky. In 2000, the Chicago Cubs drafted him in the fourth round out of Bellarmine University. He made his debut in 2003 with the club, and played three seasons with them at the major league level, striking out 92 in 84 1⁄3 innings. Just before the 2006 season got underway, Chicago traded Wellemeyer to the Marlins for minor leaguers Zach McCormack and Lincoln Holdzkom.
Wellemeyer broke camp with the parent club, and pitched in 18 of Florida’s first 47 games of the season. During his stay with the Marlins, he generated strikes at a 56 percent clip, but only struck out 17 of the 97 batters he faced. In 21 1⁄3 innings, he gave up 20 hits and 13 walks for a 1.547 WHIP. The Marlins placed him on waivers on June 6, where he was snapped up by the Kansas City Royals.
Wellemeyer pitched in 40 games for Kansas City before joining the St. Louis Cardinals, where he found a measure of success as a starter. He made 32 starts for them in 2008, going 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA and a slightly better than league average WHIP of 1.252. In May, he was named the National League Pitcher of the Month. He later joined the San Francisco Giants, playing his final season in 2010.
343. José López
José López is a six-foot infielder from Barcelona, Venezuela. A right-handed hitter and thrower, López signed his first professional deal in 2000 with the Seattle Mariners at the age of 16.
López made his major league debut with Seattle in 2004, and played his first seven seasons with the club. He hit .266/.297/.400 with 80 home runs and 431 RBI, making the American League All Star team in 2006. After the 2010 season was in the books, the Mariners traded López to the Colorado Rockies for Chaz Roe.
After hitting .208 in 38 games for the Rockies, Colorado released López, where the Marlins picked him up on the cheap. He appeared in 44 games for Florida, including September 5, when he fell just a triple short of the cycle in a 9-3 triumph over the New York Mets.
In total for Florida, López went 24-for-106 with eight doubles, six home runs, and 13 RBI. He drew four walks, struck out 13 times and also scored 13 runs. He totaled 177 innings in the field between first, second, and third base, only making one error at the hot corner. He handled his other 83 chances cleanly, figuring into five double plays.
Released by the Marlins after the season, López split 2012 between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox for what would be his final major league action.
342. Ralph Milliard
Willemstad, Curacao native Ralph Milliard was a five-foot-11 right-handed second baseman when he signed his first professional deal with the Marlins in 1992 at the age of 18.
Despite joining the club before their first ever game, Milliard didn’t debut with the team until 1996, when he was ranked as Florida’s number nine overall prospect by Baseball America. He went 10-for-62 in 24 games, with two doubles and one RBI. He also stole two bases without getting caught, and drew nearly as many walks (14) as he struck out (16). On June 7, he had his lone multi-hit game of the season in a 12-2 drubbing of the Mets, with a single, a double, and two runs scored.
In 1997, Milliard rejoined the Marlins to appear in eight more games, and went six-for-30 from the plate with no extra base hits and a pair of RBI. In 234 2⁄3 defensive innings at second base with the team, he made five errors and turned 23 double plays out of 158 total chances, landing with a .968 fielding percentage.
Prior to the 1998 season getting underway, the Marlins traded Milliard with Al Leiter to the Mets for Rob Stratton, A.J. Burnett, and the first Jesus Sanchez. I think we won that one, based only on Burnett, but I digress.
Milliard went 0-for-1 with the Mets, appearing as a defensive replacement in 10 games. It was his last look at the major league level, although he did play three more seasons of minor league ball, with the Cincinnati Reds, the San Diego Padres, and the Cleveland Indians, respectively.
341. Jonathan Villar
Jonathan Villar is a six-foot, switch-hitting middle infielder from La Vega, Dominican Republic. In 2008, he signed his first professional contract with the Philadelphia Phillies at the age of 17.
Prior to his promotion to the major leagues, Villar was traded to the Houston Astros with two other players for Roy Oswalt. He later debuted with the Astros in 2013, playing three seasons in Houston. He then played a year-and-a-half with the Milwaukee Brewers and another year-and-a-half with the Baltimore Orioles. He led the majors with both 62 stolen bases and 18 caught stealings in 2016 while with Milwaukee.
On December 2, 2019, as part of a cost-cutting measure on the part of the Orioles, Villar was traded to the Marlins for minor league pitcher Easton Lucas. In 30 games for the Marlins, Villar went 30-for-116 at the plate, with four doubles, two homers, and nine RBI. He drew 10 walks, scored 10 runs, and struck out 32 times. He also stole nine bases and was caught five times, both major-league-leading figures at the time of his eventual trade to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Villar’s best game with the Marlins, going by WPA, was on August 6, ironically against Baltimore. Villar collected two singles and a homer with two RBI, adding a stolen base in an 8-7 Marlins victory.
As noted above, the Blue Jays traded a PTBNL for Villar at the 2020 trade deadline, and the Marlins got.....Griffin Conine! That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll royalty right there! Thanks for reading.