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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 80

Drew Steckenrider makes an appearance in today’s Countdown

Miami Marlins v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Marlins have employed 630 players through their first 28 seasons of major league play.

This series is touching on all of them, from Charlie Hough’s first pitch through Sixto Sanchez’ debut. We’re currently in the 250-to-799 PA/BF bracket, and each of today’s Marlins posted a brWAR above replacement level while with the team.

194. Taylor Tankersley

Missoula, Montana native Taylor Tankersley is a six-foot left-handed pitcher. In 2001, he was a 39th round pick of the Kansas City Royals out of Warren Central HS. He instead decided to play Division 1 ball for the University of Alabama.

In three seasons for the Tide, Tankersley went 17-15 with a 3.74 ERA and 232 whiffs in 226 innings. As a senior, he posted a 2.00 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP, which moved him up on a lot of draft boards, including the Marlins. Picking with the 27th selection, they went with Tankersley.

Tankersley moved quickly up the minor league chain, getting to the majors with Florida in 2006. His first season was likely his best, and would see him rack up a 1.2 brWAR. In 41 innings, he struck out 46 and held opponents to a 2.85 ERA, a 1.439 WHIP, and an opposing slash line of .228/.343/.338. He plated 59 percent of his offerings, and stranded two-thirds of his 33 inherited runners.

On July 25, Tankersley missed an immaculate inning by one pitch, striking out the side in a 2-1 win against the horrible Atlanta Braves. Credited with a hold, he whiffed Scott Thorman, Ryan Langerhans, and Andruw Jones in a perfect eighth.

In 2007, Tankersley ranked third with 67 appearances out of the bullpen, going 6-1 with a 3.99 ERA and a 1.500 WHIP in 47 13 innings of work. He increased his strike rate to 60 percent, and again held opponents to a pretty decent .246/.361/.357 line. He also stranded 40 out of 50 runners inherited.

The bottom fell out for Tankersley in 2008, and would see him post an 8.15 ERA in 17 23 innings, on 22 hits and eight walks. His whiff rated dropped all the way down to 6.6 K/9, and he ended up spending most of the season at the Triple-A level with the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Tankersley was later diagnosed with a recurring stress fracture to his throwing arm, and underwent surgery to correct the issue. He eventually got back to the majors with the Marlins in 2010, pitching 12 innings over 27 games. He later signed with the New York Mets, but couldn’t rise above the Triple-A level in his season with them.

193. Rick Renteria

Rick Renteria was a five-foot-nine shortstop when drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round back in 1980. A South Gate, California native, Renteria got to the majors with the Bucs in 1986, and later also made appearances at the major league level with the Seattle Mariners the next two seasons.

Renteria had hit .200/.221/.300 in 53 games for the two clubs, making 53 appearances in a major league game. On June 29, 1988, he went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts in his last appearance for quite some time. Over the next four seasons, he played 85 combined games at the Triple-A level with the Calgary Cannons and the Indianapolis Indians.

During the Marlins first ever Spring Training, they took a flyer on Renteria. He ended up starting 52 games for the fledgling club, 37 at second base and 15 at third, never appearing at shortstop. In 103 games in total, he slashed .255/.314/.327 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers, 30 RBI, 21 walks, 27 runs, and 31 strikeouts.

Renteria posted multiple hit games in nearly a third of his starts, totaling 15, including six three-hit games. On August 26, he came in as a pinch runner for Gary Sheffield in the bottom of the fourth. He ended up collecting three hits in a 13-inning, 5-4 victory over the Houston Astros.

Renteria returned to the Marlins for another 28 games in 1994, hitting .237/.285/.322 with a pair of home runs and four RBI. He wouldn’t make another major league appearance.

During his time with the Marlins, Renteria proved an excellent defender, grading out as above average at second and third base. He made a total of three errors in 582 13 innings. Since retiring, he’s found success as a coach and manager. He’s currently the manager for the Chicago White Sox, and most recently guided them to a 35-25 record in the COVID-shortened 2020. They fired him anyway.

192. Ed Lucas

Ed Lucas is a six-foot-three right-handed infielder from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He played his college ball at Dartmouth, where he slashed .357/.416/.496 in 131 contests over three seasons, with 20 stolen bases in 21 attempts. In 2004, the Kansas City Royals chose him in the eighth round, but it would be awhile before he got to the major leagues.

The Royals kept Lucas in their minor league system for seven years before granting him free agency. He played a season in the disgusting Atlanta Braves system, then played at Triple-A for the Anaheim Angels in 2012. After the season, the Marlins signed him to a deal.

Just after Lucas’ 31st birthday, he made his major league debut with Miami on May 30. In just his second career start on June 2, he went four-for-four with a walk, a double and a pair of RBI in an 11-6 victory against the New York Mets.

In 94 games for the Marlins that year, Lucas hit .256/.311/.336 with four homers and 28 RBI. He appeared in another 69 games for the Fish in 2014, hitting .251/.283/.296 with one long-ball and nine RBI.

After Lucas’ brief flirtation with the majors, he spent another two seasons in the minors between the Texas Rangers, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Seattle Mariners. He was later employed by the Marlins as an administrative coach and video replay coordinator.

191. Drew Steckenrider

Drew Steckenrider is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Atlanta, and an alum of the University of Tennessee. In 113 13 innings of division 1 play, he struck out 132. That piqued the interest of the Marlins scouting team enough for them to spend an eighth-round pick on him in 2012.

In 2016, while playing with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, Steckenrider struck out 39 batters in 30 13 innings, while allowing only 12 hits for a 0.73 WHIP. Deservedly so, he then graduated to the “rated” prospect list, charting at number nine for the Marlins in 2017 according to the MLB Pipeline.

Washington Nationals v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Steckenrider made his major league debut for the Marlins soon after getting “rated,” and spent his rookie status in 2017 by pitching in 34 23 innings. He struck out 54 and racked up a 2.34 ERA in 37 games, holding down a 1.385 WHIP while putting up a 14.0 K/9. On August 26, he picked up his highest WPA of the season, relieving Jarlin Garcia in the ninth inning of a 1-1 tie with the San Diego Padres with a runner on second and two outs. He got Jabari Blash to strike out, then pitched a perfect 10th in an eventual 2-1, 11-inning victory.

Steck held the opposition to a .227/.318/.356 slashline, getting 66 percent of his pitches over the plate. Despite his eye-opening stats, he was not particularly adept at stranding inherited runners, allowing 11-of-21 to cross the plate.

In 2018, Steckenrider led the Marlins pitching staff with 71 appearances, and for a time near the end of the season even served as the team’s closer, picking up five saves. He went 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA and 74 K’s in 64 23 innings, along with a 1.268 WHIP. Opponents managed to slash .227/.309/.355 as he again got 66 percent of his pitches in the strike zone, and again allowed most of his inherited runners to score, letting 12-of-22 cross the plate.

Problems with his right arm kept Steckenrider on the sideline for most of 2019 and all of 2020. He only allowed nine hits in 14 13 innings in the former, with 14 strikeouts, but six of the nine hits were home runs. It was the last time he would appear in a Marlins uniform (to date). Two months ago, the Marlins granted free agency to him, and he signed on with the Seattle Mariners.