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All-Time Marlins Countdown: Chapter 125

Chapter 125 of our countdown features a center fielder known for power and speed, as well as a name-changing relief pitcher.

Florida Marlins v St. Louis Cardinals

The Marlins have used a total of 630 players through their first 28 seasons of play at the major-league level.

In this comprehensive offseason-long series, we’re recapping all of them (to date). The final 128 on the list all accumulated 800 or more plate appearances and/or batters faced during their time with the Florida/Miami Marlins. The final 105 of them finished above replacement level. Today’s pair finished with bWAR totals of 6.2 and 2.3, respectively. Players are ranked in ascending value of bWAR divided by PA/BF.

57. Preston Wilson

Lauded for his power and speed out of center field, Preston Wilson enjoyed a successful 10-season major league career. A six-foot-two right-hander from Bamberg, South Carolina, Wilson was a first round choice of the New York Mets in the 1992 draft out of his hometown high school, with the ninth selection off the board.

It was later with the Mets for whom Wilson made his major league debut, going six-for-20 in eight games in early-1998. On May 22 of that year, the Mets sent him with minor leaguer Geoff Goetz and Ed Yarnall to the Marlins for short-time Floridian Mike Piazza.

Wilson did not impress in his 14 games with the Marlins at the major league level that season, going two-for-31 from the plate with one RBI, on a solo home run. His performance couldn’t have prepared Marlins’ faithful for what happened next.

In 1999, Wilson was good enough to place second in the National League Rookie of the Year Award voting, after slashing out a .280/.350/.502 line with 26 homers, 71 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 149 contests for Florida. In 2000, Wilson became the charter member of the Marlins’ 30-30 club, smacking 31 round-trippers and swiping an NL-sixth 36 bases.

Despite Wilson’s overwhelming offensive tools, he was a noted liability as a defender, worth a combined minus-36 runs below the NL “average” outfielder during his four-plus campaigns with Florida.

But Wilson was a joy to watch at the plate, despite a strikeout rate of 25.7 percent. In 588 games for the Marlins, he slashed a .262/.333/.473 line with a franchise-10th 104 homers and 329 RBI, along with a club-ninth 87 stolen bases in 124 attempts.

Wilson had no shortage of heroic moments while ensconced with the Marlins. On June 24, 2000, he hit a game-tying solo homer in the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs, then added a two-out, three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth to make a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead in an eventual 7-4 Marlins victory. On September 5, 2001, Wilson singled in the third, reached on an error and scored in the eighth, and hit a three-run, walkoff shot with two outs in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 Marlins win against the Cubs. (Wilson seemed to like playing the Cubs).

After the 2002 season, the Marlins sent Wilson to the Colorado Rockies with reliever Vic Darensbourg, backstop Charles Johnson, and outfielder Pablo Ozuna for starter Mike Hampton and fellow centerfielder Juan Pierre. Wilson responded by leading the NL with 141 RBI and a career-high 36 homers, along with his only career All Star appearance. He later also played at the big league level with the Washington Nationals, the Houston Astros, and the St. Louis Cardinals.

56. Juan Carlos Oviedo

When the Marlins first employed Juan Carlos Oviedo, he was known as Leo Núñez, a name by which he was known until 2011. According to ESPN.COM:

Miami Marlins reliever Leo Nunez apologized Friday for using a fake name and age, saying he falsified his identify when he was young so he could play professional baseball.

“I apologize to my supporters, my fans,” he said Friday in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was a mistake I made as a child and with God’s help everything will turn out OK.”

In 2000, Oviedo signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates through free agency at the age of 17, although he was listed at the time as 18. Prior to making his first appearance at the major league level, the Bucs traded him to the Kansas City Royals for Benito Santiago.

Oviedo is a six-foot-two right-handed pitcher from Bonao, Dominican Republic who eventually appeared in eight major league seasons. He debuted with the Royals in 2005, and pitched in 106 games for them over his four seasons at the parent-club level, including six starts. He was 9-7 with no saves, a 4.92 ERA, and a 1.415 WHIP over 159 innings. After the completion of the 2008 season, the Royals traded him to Florida for slugger Mike Jacobs.

Oviedo inherited the baton as primary closer for the Marlins around midway through his first season with the team, and eventually saved 92 games in three seasons for Florida. He was 9-13 with a 3.86 ERA, 186 K’s in 198 innings, and a 1.247 WHIP. Interestingly, Oviedo faced exactly 831 batters while with the Marlins, and exactly 831 between his other major league franchises (Kansas City and later the Tampa Bay Rays).

Oviedo never appeared with the Marlins under his new (old) name, and was granted free agency after a season spent between rehab, the major league restricted list, and the minors. In 2014, he joined the Rays for 32 relief appearances at the major league level.

Thanks for reading. Join us tomorrow for a solid reliever and a donut-loving first baseman.