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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 107

We breach the Top 100 Marlins with three more pitchers, including Tom Koehler.

Miami Marlins v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Florida and Miami Marlins have used 630 players through their first 28 seasons of major league play.

The All-Time Marlins Countdown reaches the Top 100 in today’s dispatch. Players are ranked in order of ascending bWAR divided by total PA/BF while with the franchise. Today’s group of three achieved slightly above replacement level value during their time with the Marlins.

102. Jay Powell

Jay Powell is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Meridian, Mississippi. In 1990, the San Diego Padres took him in the 11th round, but he didn’t sign, instead going to Mississippi State University. As a junior in 1993, he posted a 3.56 ERA and struck out 73 in 73 13 innings. His time in college resulted in greatly increased draft stock, and the Baltimore Orioles chose him in the first round, 19th overall in 1993.

In 1994, at that time ranked as Baltimore’s number five prospect according to Baseball America, Powell spent the entire season at the High-A level with the Frederick Keys. Mostly in the rotation at the time (in 20 of 26 appearances), Powell went 7-7 with a 4.96 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. After the season, the Orioles traded him to the Marlins for Bret Barberie.

Jay Powell

In 1995, in his first cup of coffee with the Marlins, Powell walked six and struck out four in 8 13 innings. He played most of the year at the Double-A level with the Portland Sea Dogs, and racked up 53 strikeouts in as many innings, with a 5-4 record, 24 saves, a 1.87 ERA, and a solid 1.08 WHIP. For his efforts, he was named to the Eastern League All-Star Team. He opened the 1996 campaign as the Marlins number three prospect, and the number 67 prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America.

Powell spent the entire 1996 season at the major league level with the Marlins, less one game for the High-A Brevard County Manatees. In a team-second 67 games for Florida, he whiffed 52 in 71 13 innings, holding down a 1.50 WHIP and a 4.54 ERA. He got 60 percent of his pitches over the plate, and kept opponents to a .255/.348/.378 line. Of his 46 inherited baserunners, he stranded 70 percent of them.

On September 10, Powell came into a 3-3 tie with the New York Mets and pitched two perfect innings, the 10th and the 11th. He earned the victory when the Marlins erupted for six runs in the top of the 12th.

Powell led the eventual World Champion Marlins in 1997 with 74 trips out of the bullpen. He went 7-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 65 K’s in 79 23 innings. His 1.27 WHIP was the best mark of his eventual 11-season major-league career. Powell put 61 percent of his pitches over the plate that season, and kept opponents to a .242/.317/.317 line. Only nine of 30 inherited runners crossed the plate.

On May 3, Powell came into the bottom of the 13th with a runner on second and nobody out, hen got Jeff Bagwell out on a sacrifice fly, walked Derek Bell, and got Sean Berry to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Powell appeared in five postseason games as the Marlins made their run to the title, allowing nine of 21 batters faced to reach base. He was the winning pitcher of record in their game seven World Series clinching win over the Cleveland Indians, pitching the top of the 11th before Edgar Renteria’s walk-off in the bottom of the inning.

In 1998, Powell was 4-4 with a 4.21 ERA in 33 trips out of the pen for the Marlins. He struck out 24 in 36 13 innings. On July 4, Florida sent him with minor league catcher Scott Makarewicz for Houston Astros catcher Ramón Castro (number 218 on our countdown).

After parts of four seasons for the Astros, Powell also played at the major league level for the Colorado Rockies, the Texas Rangers, and the Atlanta Braves. Overall, he was 36-23 with a 4.17 ERA and 22 saves.

101. Michael Tejera

Lefty pitcher Michael Tejera is a five-foot-nine native of La Habana, Cuba. In 1995, the Marlins chose him in the sixth round of the draft out of Southwest Miami HS. In 28 starts in 1998 between the Single-A Kane County Cougars and the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs, he went 15-6 with a 3.65 ERA and a K/BB rate of 2.94.

In 1999, Tejera went 13-4 with the Sea Dogs, posting a 2.62 ERA over 25 starts. This led to a call-up late in the season for the Marlins, for whom he pitched in three games. Unfortunately, he allowed eight runs in 6 13 innings.

Tejera spent the entire 2000 season on the disabled list, and 2001 in the minors with Portland, going 9-8 with a 3.57 ERA in 25 starts. He finally spent his rookie status in 2002 at the age of 25, operating as a swing-man with 18 starts in 29 trips out of the bullpen. Tejera racked up 95 whiffs in 139 23 innings, with a 1.46 WHIP, an 8-8 record, one save, and a 4.45 ERA. No slouch at the plate, he went seven-for-37 with a home run and five RBI.

Florida Marlins vs Tampa Bay Devil Rays - June 26, 2004

Tejera proved adept at limiting movement on the bases, stranding 11 of 13 inherited runners and allowing only four of 10 to safely attempt a steal. Nine of his 18 starts were “Quality,” but his most positively impactful game came in relief.

On September 17, Tejera entered a 4-4 tie against the Montreal Expos in the 11th inning and faced the minimum over three innings, striking out two. The Marlins eventually lost in 14 innings, 8-5. Tejera ended the season ranked 12th on the team with 1.1 bWAR.

In 2003, Tejera’s WHIP remained essentially unchanged, at 1.46. His role, however, was much more likely to be in relief. He started in only six of his 50 appearances overall, and posted a 3-4 record with a 4.67 ERA and a pair of saves.

On May 28, in the second game of a twin-bill, Tejera pitched six shutout innings against Montreal, earning his first win of the season. He struck out four and allowed five hits. In the postseason, he appeared in two games of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, and was the losing pitcher of record for Game Three, a 5-4, 11-inning loss.

In 2004, Tejera spent most of the year relegated to the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes. He was 8-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 starts and three relief appearances, and made two appearances for the Marlins at the major league level. On September 10, the Texas Rangers claimed Tejera off waivers.

Tejera only appeared in nine major league contests for Texas, pitching for the last time in June 2005. He played for five more seasons in the minor league systems of the San Francisco Giants, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Boston Red Sox, and the Cleveland Indians. In 2010, he pitched in two contests for the Tabasco Olmecas in the Mexican League, in his last professional appearances.

Tejera was a solid ballplayer when all was said and done, but the thing he’ll probably be most remembered for was a pitch that went sailing into the stands in the 2003 NLCS (see video).

Since his playing career ended, Tejera has been a minor league pitching coach. He served for six years with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Nationals and two seasons with the Harrisburg Senators. In 2020, he was the pitching coach with the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.

100. Tom Koehler

Tom Koehler is a more recently vintaged Marlins pitcher than our first two entrants in today’s chapter. A six-foot-two right-hander, Koehler is a native of Bronx, New York, an 18th round choice out of State University at Stony Brook, and a pretty good follow on Twitter (@TKREFRESH22).

Koehler was used by Stony Brook exclusively as a starter through his final two Division 1 seasons of collegiate play, and that usage would continue once he turned professional. Of his 271 Marlins appearances between the minors and the majors, all but 17 of them were starts.

Although Koehler was never a highly regarded prospect, he could sure dance (see video above). He was lights out for his age-24 season with the Double-A Jacksonville Suns, going 16-2 with a 2.61 ERA over 28 turns in the rotation and striking out 145 in 158 23 innings while holding his WHIP to a mark of 1.17. In 2012, he made his big league debut with Miami, striking out 13 and walking only two in 13 13 innings.

On September 17, Koehler struck out five over two scoreless innings of a 7-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves. His final appearance of the year was his first major league start, on October 3. He took the loss, 4-2 to the New York Mets after allowing three runs in five innings of work.

Koehler worked out of the pen through the first part of May 2013 before joining the rotation, and didn’t miss a start until he was traded away four seasons later. He put 62 percent of his pitches in the black, holding opponents to a .261/.333/.421 slash line, a 4.41 ERA, and a 1.36 WHIP. On September 15, Koehler pitched eight innings of shutout ball versus the Mets, walking zero, striking out five, and allowing only three hits. The Marlins, however, couldn’t get it together on the offensive side of the equation, falling 1-0 in 12 innings.

The 2014 season would be Koehler’s best, according to his 2.5 bWAR. He pitched a career-high and Marlins-best 191 13 innings over his 32 starts, striking out 153 and walking 71. Koehler went 10-10 with a 3.81 ERA and a 1.296 WHIP, plating 63 percent of his pitches and holding opponents to a .248/.320/.371 slashline.

Koehler’s best game of the year again came against the Mets, on May 7. He struck out five and gave up two hits plus one base-on-balls in eight shutout frames. Somehow, he again didn’t earn the decision, as the Marlins won, 1-0 on a Marcell Ozuna sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth.

After that, Koehler made another 46 starts in the rotation, but his WHIP steadily climbed to 1.37 in 2015, to 1.47 in 2016, and to 1.73 in 2017. On August 19, 2017, Miami traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league starting pitcher Osman Gutierrez.

Miami Marlins v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Although Koehler’s time with the Blue Jays was short, he enjoyed the best stretch of his career when moved to the bullpen. He struck out 18 in 17 innings, and posted a 3.22 FIP. Non-tendered after the 2017 season, Koehler signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers through free agency. Due to injury, however, he never appeared in a game for them at the major or minor league level.

In 2019, Koehler signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but only appeared in four minor league games for them. He announced his retirement on March 3, 2020, and has since been gainfully employed as Agent & Director of Pitching Performance at Pro Agents Inc.

Koehler ranks 11th on Miami’s all-time leaderboard with 36 victories, seventh all-time with 767 13 innings and ninth with 586 career strikeouts.