Most of these articles have featured at least one player of a more recent vintage, but today’s dispatch seems to be an exception.
The Florida and Miami Marlins have had 630 players appear for the team through their first 28 seasons of major league play, and we’re looking at each of them in turn. Today’s group of five all had between 75 and 249 plate appearances/batters faced, and all of them rated as slightly above replacement level, according to baseball reference.
330. Austin Kearns
Austin Kearns is a six-foot-three right-handed outfielder from Lexington, Kentucky. In 1998, he was a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Reds, seventh overall out of high school.
Big things were expected from Kearns from day one. Considered a promising prospect from the jump, Kearns peaked in 2002 as the number 11 prospect in all of baseball, and the top player in Cincinnati’s system. That season, he finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, after slashing .315/.407/.500 with 13 homers and 56 RBI. After four-and-a-half seasons in the Queen City, he also played for the Washington Nationals, the Cleveland Indians, and the New York Yankees.
Going into Spring Training in 2012, the newly named Miami Marlins signed Kearns to a deal for the veteran’s minimum. He played with the parent organization for basically the entire season, appearing in 87 games and going 36-for-147 overall, with six doubles, four home runs, and 16 RBI. He drew 22 walks, scored 21 runs, and struck out 44 times overall.
On May 21, Kearns hit four singles, knocked in a pair of runs, and drew a walk in a 7-4 win against the Colorado Rockies. In 2013, Kearns was limited by injury to only 19 games, during which he went five-for-27 from the plate in what would be his final MLB appearances. Overall, he made one error in 272 innings patrolling the outfield, for a .990 fielding percentage.
Kearns declared free agency on Halloween 2013, but didn’t sign with another professional organization. He later joined Lexington Christian as a volunteer coach.
329. Gary Knotts
Decatur, Alabama native Gary Knotts is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher when drafted by the Marlins in 1995. They took him in the 11th round out of Northwest Shoals Community College, real close to where Lynyrd Skynyrd recorded some of their best work.
By 2000, Knotts was considered the number nine prospect in Florida’s system. In 2001, he made his major league debut in relief on July 28. He pitched one perfect inning in a 5-0 loss to the Reds. Five days later, he made his first major league start, striking out nine in five innings. He also gave up four runs on six hits, two hit batters, and a walk, taking the loss.
The 2002 campaign would provide a better body-of-work by which to weigh Knotts’ time with the Marlins. He pitched 30 2⁄3 innings in 28 games, striking out 21 and walking 16. He held the opposition to a meager .193 batting average, and posted a 4.40 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Knotts’ bottom line with the Marlins was a 3-2 record and a 4.66 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He went 1-for-3 with a single, and took five fielding chances without an error. In 2003, before the beginning of Spring Training, Florida traded him with Rob Henkel and Nate Robertson to the Detroit Tigers for Jerrod Fuell and Mark Redman.
Knotts spent two seasons in Detroit’s rotation, going 10-14 with a 5.58 ERA.
328. Jose Ceda
Jose Ceda is a six-foot-five right-handed pitcher from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. In 2004, he signed his first professional deal with the San Diego Padres at the age of 17. At the 2006 trade deadline, they sent him to the Chicago Cubs for Todd Walker. Opening 2008, he was the North-siders’ number four prospect.
After the 2008 season, the Cubbies traded Ceda to the Marlins for Kevin Gregg. In 2010, Ceda played in the majors for the first time, but allowed 11 walks in 8 2⁄3 innings for Florida by putting only 53 percent of his 192 pitches in the strike zone. He struck out nine and allowed five earned runs.
In 2011, Ceda pitched 20 1⁄3 more innings for Florida, giving up 11 runs and striking out 21 batters. Although his major-league playing career wasn’t very long, he did have time to put together a six game streak from July 26 through August 24 where he pitched 7 2⁄3 innings without allowing a hit. He also was the recipient of a rather famous prank (see video above).
Ceda played another season in the Marlins system, but didn’t again graduate to the major league level.
327. Graeme Lloyd
Graeme Lloyd is a six-foot-eight left-handed pitcher from Geelong, Australia. An undrafted talent, Lloyd was signed through free agency by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988 at the age of 20.
Eventually, Lloyd got to the major league level for a 10-season career. Aside from his time with the Marlins, he also spent four seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers, three with the New York Yankees, one-and-a-half with the Montreal Expos, and a half-season each with the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals.
Lloyd played in his second-to-last MLB season for the Marlins in 2002. He pitched in 25 contests, striking out 20 in 26 1⁄3 innings and giving up 13 runs on 11 walks and 26 hits. On May 9, he earned his first career victory by pitching 1 2⁄3 perfect innings in a 12-inning, 6-5 victory over the Expos.
All told, Lloyd had a 30-36 career major league record, with 304 strikeouts in 533 innings, a 4.04 ERA, and a 1.35 WHIP.
326. Tim Spooneybarger
Tim Spooneybarger is a six-foot-three right-handed pitcher from San Diego, California. In 1998, the Atlanta Braves took him in the 29th round out of Pine Forest HS in Pensacola, FL. He would hold the distinctive honor of “longest last name” in Marlins history, if not for a certain backstop (look for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in Chapter 77).
Not highly touted as prospects go, Spooneybarger nevertheless advanced through the minors to make his major league debut with the Braves in 2001. In 2002, he put up a 2.63 ERA for them in 51 trips out of the bullpen. After that season, they traded him and Ryan Baker to Florida for Mike Hampton.
Spooneybarger’s sole campaign with the Marlins would be his final MLB season. He played in 33 regular season games for the eventual World Champions, striking out 32 in 42 innings over 33 relief appearances. He only walked 11 and gave up 27 hits for a rock-solid 0.91 WHIP. He had eight perfect appearances of one or more innings, not including a five strikeout, one walk, no hit performance over 2 2⁄3 innings in a 4-3 win against Montreal on May 28.