Chapter 85 of our countdown features recent ex-Marlins Tyler Kinley and JT Riddle.
You’re reading the 85th part of a 165-part series where we recap every player to appear for the Florida and Miami Marlins through their first 28 MLB seasons.
Players are first sorted into brackets based on the amount of plate appearances/batters faced they accrued while with the Marlins. The current bracket is for players who totaled between 250 and 799 while with the club.
Players are then further sorted in order of ascending brWAR divided by plate appearances — to give a value-per-plate-transaction. Today’s group racked up a brWAR above replacement level.
174. Damion Easley
Damion Easley is a five-foot-10 right-handed infielder from New York City. A product of Long Beach City College, the California Angels took him in the 30th round of the draft in 1988.
Before joining the Marlins at the major league level, Easley had already put a dozen major league seasons in his rear view mirror. He played four-and-a-half seasons for the Angels, six-and-a-half for the Detroit Tigers, and one year with the Tampa Bay Rays. In 1227 games, he racked up a .253/.329/.399 slash line with 120 home runs, 513 RBI, and 105 stolen bases. In 1998, he was an American League All Star and the AL’s Silver Slugger Award winner at second base.
After the 2003 season, the Marlins signed Easley through free agency. Thirty-four years old at the start of the 2004 season, Easley played in 98 games for the defending National League Champions, hitting .238.331/.457 with nine round-trippers and 43 RBI. He hit 20 doubles, a triple, drew 24 walks, scored 26 runs, and whiffed 36 times. He also stole four bases in five attempts.
Although Easley only started in 48 games for the Marlins that year, he collected multiple hits in 14 of them. On June 8, he hit a game-tying RBI-groundout in the fourth inning, added a double and scored another game-tying run in the eighth, then drove the eventual game-winning run home with a two-out, two-run ninth-inning homer.
Easley stuck around with the Marlins for another season, and slashed out a .240/.312./419 line with nine homers and 30 RBI in 2005. He provided capable if slightly below league-average defense at every infield position while with the team, and even played 32 innings in right field. Whereas he collected an aggregate 2.1 oWAR with the team, he dialed his total value back by accruing a minus-0.6 dWAR.
173. Dan Meyer
Woodbury, New Jersey native Dan Meyer is a six-foot-two left-handed pitcher. In 2002, the disgusting Atlanta Braves selected him in the first round, 34th overall off the board out of James Madison University. By 2004, he was the number 82 prospect in all of baseball, as well as the number five Braves prospect, according to Baseball America.
Meyer made his major league debut with the Braves that year, pitching in two games and finishing with two scoreless innings. He didn’t get back to the majors until 2007, with the Oakland Athletics to dubious success. In 17 games over two seasons, including seven starts for the A’s, Meyer was 0-6 with a 7.98 ERA and a 1.773 WHIP.
After the 2008 season was complete, the Marlins selected Meyer off waivers from Oakland. The 2009 season would see him rank third on the Marlins with 71 appearances out of the bullpen. He was 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA, 56 whiffs in 58 1⁄3 innings, and a 1.166 WHIP. On nights when Meyer pitched, the Marlins were 45-26. He got 62 percent of his pitches over the plate, stranded 26 percent of inherited baserunners, and held opponents to a .219/.289/.349 slashline.
On May 6, Meyer struck out five Braves in 2 2⁄3 scoreless innings of an eventual 8-6 loss to Atlanta. Only once during the season did Meyer post a WPA over .200, but it’s a measure of his stability that he finished the year with a WPA almost a full-win over zero.
Meyer would paint a different picture for the Marlins in 2010. In 13 games, he posted a 9.64 ERA by walking 12 and allowing 15 hits in only 9 1⁄3 innings for a 2.893 WHIP. It would be his last major league experience. He’s spent the last seven years in the Braves minor league system as a pitching coach, the last two with the Florida Fire Frogs in the Florida State League.
172. Tyler Kinley
Tyler Kinley is a six-foot-four right-handed pitcher from Plantation, Florida. In 2013, the Marlins took him in round 16 out of Barry University, incidentally, my father’s alma mater.
Kinley has been a relief pitcher in 318 of his 327 career major, minor, and collegiate league appearances to date. He started seven times in Barry, and twice for the GCL Marlins at the rookie level after getting drafted before forgoing the starter role altogether. In 2014 for the Greensboro Grasshoppers in the Single-A South Atlantic League, he struck out 30 in 30 innings, registering a cool 1.000 WHIP and a 2.70 ERA.
Kinley continued to rise through the Marlins minor league system over the next few seasons. After the 2017 campaign, the Minnesota Twins took him in the December rule 5 draft. After giving up nine hits and nine runs in 3 1⁄3 innings, they gave him back to the Marlins.
Kinley pitched in nine games at the major league level for the Marlins after his reacquisition, striking out nine in 7 2⁄3 innings and allowing six runs on six hits. In 2019, Kinley took another step.
In 2019, Kinley ranked third on the Marlins with 52 appearances out of the pen. He ranked second on the team with a 3.65 ERA amongst qualifying pitchers. He whiffed 46 batters in 49 1⁄3 innings, allowing opponents to slash .238/.364/.359 for a 1.601 WHIP. On August 29, he pitched the final two innings, holding the Reds scoreless in a 4-3, 12-inning victory over Cincinnati.
After the season, the Colorado Rockies selected Kinley off waivers from Miami. In 2020, he pitched in 24 games for them, getting 26 to wave in 23 2⁄3 innings and putting up a 5.32 ERA and a 1.056 WHIP. He’s still listed on their active 40-man roster.
171. J.T. Riddle
Joshua Travis Shane Riddle is a six-foot-three shortstop from Frankfort, Kentucky. The Boston Red Sox took him in the 35th round of the draft in 2010, but he didn’t sign. A University of Kentucky alum, Riddle hit .283/.358/.384 in 168 games for the Wildcats, and was then reselected in the 2013 draft. The Marlins picked him in the 13th round.
By 2016, Riddle was regarded as the number 10 prospect in the Marlins’ system. I remember since sometime around the middle of that season, he was being touted as the heir-apparent to Adeiny Hechavarria as the starting Marlins shortstop. In mid-2017, the future came soon enough. In 70 games at the major league level that season, Riddle hit .250 in his major league debut. He collected 13 doubles, a triple, three home runs, and 31 RBI, drawing 12 walks, scoring 20 runs, and striking out 50 times.
Riddle collected 16 multi hit games over his 61 starts as a rookie, but his highest WPA was achieved as a pinch-hitter. On April 16, he clubbed a two-out, ninth-inning, two-run walk-off homer in a 4-2 win over the New York Mets.
Defensively, Riddle manned short for 561 1⁄3 frames, fielding at a .970 clip and taking part in turning 33 double plays. He was four DRS above National League average and eight zone fielding runs above the watermark.
In 2018, Riddle’s main contribution to the Marlins was his defense, which was again above league average. Riddle missed the first 50 games of the year with right-shoulder tendinitis, and joined the team on May 26. He fielded at .983 in 691 1⁄3 innings, and again only played at shortstop. That changed later on, but not in 2018. In 102 contests, he hit .231/.277/.377 with nine round-trippers and 36 RBI. He drew 20 walks, scored 28 runs, and struck out 67 times.
On August 20, Riddle missed the cycle by the space of a triple, knocking in four runs in a 7-5 win against the Washington Nationals. It was one of 18 multiple hit games for him through the campaign.
Going into the 2019 season, there was a movement to get Riddle into center field. He played 31 games in center without an error, with three assists but a DRS below zero. He also played in a dozen games at shortstop, making a pair of errors in 24 chances. Offensively, he hit six homers in 139 plate appearances, but only slashed .189/.230/.371. That wasn’t any better than the guy he was trying to replace in center, Lewis Brinson, and the Marlins responded by parting ways with Riddle after the season.
Granted free agency, Riddle signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in January 2020. In 23 games for the Bucs, he went 10-for-67 from the plate, and was again granted free agency. He’ll report to 2021 spring training with the Minnesota Twins on a minor league deal.