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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 51

Chad Wallach, Sergio Romo, and Cole Gillespie are amongst the five Marlins profiled in today’s comprehensive countdown series.

Miami Marlins v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have been around for 28 seasons now, and have had 630 players take the field for at least one pitcher/hitter transaction.

Today’s group of five players all had between 75 and 249 batters faced/plate appearances, and all put up slightly-above-replacement value as measured by Baseball Reference’s WAR statistic.

325. Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo is a relief pitcher from Brawley, California. A five-foot-11 right-hander, his professional baseball career began when he was chosen in the 28th round of the 2005 draft by the San Francisco Giants.

Romo played his first nine major league seasons for the Giants, starting as a garden-variety bullpen piece and eventually becoming the team’s primary closer. In 2013, he made his first All Star appearance for the National League team and saved a career-best 38 games. Overall, he was 32-26 with a 2.58 ERA, 498 K’s in 439 23 innings, and a 0.955 WHIP.

After leaving the Giants through free agency following the 2016 season, Romo spent the next two seasons between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays, adding another 25 saves to his career total. Prior to 2019 Spring Training, the Marlins signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.

Romo spent just over half of the 2019 season with the Marlins prior to the trade deadline, but still led the club by a wide margin with 17 saves. He also ranked seventh with 38 appearances overall. He struck out 33 batters in 37 23 innings, posting a 3.58 ERA and a 1.221 WHIP. He had no plate appearances and made one error in four chances.

Miami Marlins v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Romo’s most positive impact in a Marlins victory was on May 27, when he saved his 10th game of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a 3-2 win against the Washington Nationals. On July 27, the Marlins packaged him with prospect Chris Vallimont to the Minnesota Twins for Lewin Diaz (featured in Chapter 18 of our series).

Since departing, Romo has gone 1-3 with eight saves and a 3.59 ERA in 51 games for Minnesota. On October 29, the Twins granted his free agency.

324. Chad Wallach

Right-handed catcher Chad Wallach is a six-foot-two backstop from Yorba Linda, California. In 2010, he was chosen in the 43rd round of the draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school, but he didn’t sign. He spent three seasons playing division 1 baseball for Cal State Fullerton.

In 2013, Wallach hit .309 with 15 walks and 17 strikeouts in 194 plate appearances, while honing his all-important defensive toolbag behind the plate. The Marlins were paying attention, and spent a fifth round pick on him.

After two seasons of minor league ball, the Marlins traded Wallach along with Anthony DeSclafani to the Cincinnati Reds for Mat Latos. In 2017, he went one-for-11 in his first major league action, appearing in six games for the Reds. After the season, the Marlins reentered the fray by claiming Wallach off waivers.

In his first season with the Marlins organization for the second time, Wallach spent a lot of time with the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes. In 15 games for the Marlins, he went eight-for-45 from the plate, but was very solid defensively despite two errors behind the plate. He caught three-of-seven baserunners trying to steal, and framed pitches at a slightly-above-average MLB-average rate according to Baseball Savant.

National League Wild Card Game 2: Miami Marlins v. Chicago Cubs Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The 2019 season would see Wallach battle injury to appear in 19 games for the Marlins, and 2020 would see him bit by the COVID bug to appear in only 15. He went 22-for-92 from the plate with six doubles, two homers and nine RBI overall. In his Miami career, he has caught nine runners trying to steal in 25 chances, a 36 percent kill-rate that is 10 percent better than the National League average.

323. Jason Wood

Jason Wood was a six-foot-one shortstop from San Bernardino, California when the Oakland Athletics took him in the 11th round of the 1991 draft. He had previously been drafted in the 56th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988 and by the Atlanta Braves in the 39th round in 1990. The timing was finally right for Wood, who joined the A’s minor league system.

It took eight years, but Wood made his major league debut with Oakland on Opening Day, 1998, but only appeared in three games, scoring one run and going hitless in his only plate appearance. On July 18, he was sent to the Detroit Tigers as a player to be named later in an earlier deal for Bip Roberts.

Florida Marlins batter Jason Wood hits a double into left ce Photo by Jerome T. Nakagawa/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

In 37 games for the Tigers over the next two seasons, Wood went 15-for-67 at the dish, with three doubles, two homers, and nine RBI. Granted free agency following the 2009 season, he then spent the entire next six seasons at the Triple-A level, first with two seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, then for four years with the Miami Marlins affiliates, first the Calgary Cannons and then the Albuquerque Isotopes. In 2012, with the Cannons, he was a PCL All-Star when he slashed out a .315/.370/.503 line with 15 home runs and 70 RBI.

At the age of 36, Wood finally reemerged at the major league level with the Marlins. He played at the parent club level for parts of three seasons, including the entire 2007 campaign. In 113 contests, he went 34-for-132 with eight doubles, three homers, and 27 RBI. He drew 10 walks, scored 14 runs, and struck out 41 times in total. On July 21, 2007, Wood batted seventh and went three-for-four with a solo homer and three RBI in an 11-1 victory against Cincinnati.

Defensively for the Marlins, Wood made the majority of his appearances at first base, where he made three errors in 125 chances over 145 innings in the field. He also pitched a perfect inning of relief on June 29, 2007 in a 12-3 loss to the Braves. Granted free agency following the 2008 season, Wood didn't again sign as a player.

Immediately following his retirement, Wood went into coaching, first as a hitting coach for the Bakersfield Blaze, then soon after as the manager for the High-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He steadily rose through the minors, and in 2020 was promoted to the majors as the San Francisco Giants’ Infield Coordinator.

322. Henry Cotto

Henry Cotto was a six-foot-two right-handed outfielder from New York City. In 1980, he signed his first professional deal with the Chicago Cubs at the age of 19. Four years later in his first major league look, he played in 105 games for the Cubbies, hitting .274/.325/.308 with nine stolen bases in 12 attempts.

Cotto was traded to the New York Yankees following the 1984 season and played a part-time role for three seasons with the club. After the 1987 season, the Bombers sent him to the Seattle Mariners, where he enjoyed his greatest major league success.

Cotto appeared in 588 games for the Mariners over six years, slashing a .261/.301/.373 line with 102 stolen bases and only 19 unsuccessful attempts. On June 27, 1993, with the Marlins inaugural campaign in full swing, the Mariners traded him with Jeff Darwin to Florida for Dave Magadan.

Florida Marlins v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

For Florida, Cotto appeared in 54 games, going 40-for-135 from the plate. He hit seven doubles and three home runs with 14 RBI. He drew three walks, scored 15 times, and struck out 18 times. His propensity to pick his spots when attempting to steal was well in evidence as well, with 11-of-12 successful attempts in his short time with the Marlins.

Going by WPA on Baseball Reference, Cotto’s best game with the Marlins was on August 11, in a 12-11 victory over the Cubs. Cotto entered as a defensive replacement in the top of the eighth with the game tied at seven. By the bottom of the inning, trailing by three, he hit a no-out single with a runner on first, and eventually scored. In the bottom of the ninth, he repeated the trick, and crossed the plate on a Gary Sheffield walk-off single for the win.

Cotto didn’t play in 1994, and his attempt to continue in the game in 1995 resulted in an eight-for-61 tryout with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. He struck out 20 times during the short look, and didn't appear professionally afterward.

321. Cole Gillespie

Cole Gillespie is a six-foot-one right-handed left fielder from Portland, Oregon. In 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers took him in the third round of the draft out of Oregon State University.

Traded before getting to the majors, Gillespie made major league appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Seattle Mariners, and the Toronto Blue Jays before beginning the Marlins’ leg of his baseball career.

After the 2014 season, Gillespie signed with the Marlins through free agency. He played two seasons with Miami as a “fourth outfielder,” hitting .276/.318/.413 with two long-shots and 21 RBI.

Despite traveling far and wide through his baseball career, Gillespie’s 108 games with the Marlins represented more than half of his major league appearances. Defensively with the club, he made a total of five errors in 364 13 innings for a .949 fielding percentage.

Miami Marlins v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Gillespie collected multiple hits in 14 contests, including July 11, 2015. In that game, a 14-3 Marlins win over Cincinnati, he hit a leadoff homer in the fifth, an RBI-single in the seventh, and added a double and scored in the eighth. Granted free agency following 2016, he spent 2017 in independent and Mexican League action. He signed with the San Diego Padres through free agency in 2018, but did not appear in the major or minor leagues after his time with the Marlins.