Photo by Gary Coronado/Palm Beach Post

In the darkest of times for baseball (including Marlins baseball) — the times in which the game we love cannot be contested — we will look back on brighter ones, namely the brightest of occasions for each Marlins’ Minor League affiliate. Presenting our All-Time Baby Fish Teams!

We begin with the Jupiter Hammerheads, Miami’s A+ affiliate since 2003. The Hammerheads compete in the spring training home of the Marlins, Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium which was erected in the township of Abacoa in 1998. One of the busiest complexes in the sports world, the Marlins share the facility with the St. Louis Cardinals.

J.T. Realmuto (AP Photo)

C J.T. Realmuto
A+ Stats (2012) .256/.319/.345, 8 HR, 24 XBH, 46 RBI, 64/37 K/BB; 71/40 SB/CS (36% CS%)

Realmuto was a Marlins’ prep pick in the 2010 Draft out of Carl Albert High in Oklahoma. His single season in Jupiter came in 2012 when he nearly mirrored his numbers from the year previous in the A Greensboro. Though his average and OBP numbers fell, those factors could be blamed on a lower BABIP figure (.279 vs .341) produced by the Florida State League. However, the fact he matched his totals in steals and saw his K rate fall from 20.5% to 12.8% while throwing out 37% of his potential base stealers made Realmuto’s single season in Jupiter an overall success and an important stepping stone.

After two full years in AA including a .299/.369/.461, 8 HR, 18 SB, 132 wRC+, 33/21 SB/CS (39 CS%) showing in 97 games in 2014, Realmuto made his MLB debut that September. In 2016, Realmuto hit 303/.343/.408, marks which ranked fourth, 12th and 13th among MLB catchers with at least 200 PAs. His 39% CS% from behind the plate ranked fourth in baseball. Come 2018, by way of a .310/.365/.536 first half, J.T. was selected to his All-Star Game. Overall that year, J.T. hit .277/.340/.484. His 126 wRC+ and 4.9 WAR solidified his position as one of MLB’s premier backstops.

Following that season, Realmuto was traded to Philadelphia in return for new MLB catcher Jorge Alfaro, the Marlins’ now top prospect, Sixto Sanchez and another member of the top 30 organizational prospects club Will Stewart. In his inaugural season with the Phillies, Realmuto hit a career high 25 homers, fourth among backstops in baseball. He paced the power with a .275 BA, fifth in MLB. J.T. Was nearly perfect behind the plate, throwing out 43 of 49 potential base stealers. All of this equated to a 5.7 WAR. In other words, he wasn’t just in the equation for it, he was baseball’s best catcher.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Gaby Sanchez (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

1B Gaby Sanchez
Jupiter Stats (2006/07) – .269/.364/.422, 10 HR, 57 XBH, 77 RBI, 86/76 K/BB

A hometown kid, Sanchez was a Marlins’ fourth round draft pick out of the University Of Miami. In a two year career with the Hurricanes, the Brito High grad hit .322/.386/.493 with 14 homers, 52 XBH and 103 RBI. After a .235/.282/.356, 2 HR, 11 XBH 32 game showing in the Cape, his first action with a wood bat, the Marlins selected Sanchez in the fourth round of the 2005 MLB Draft.

A solid collegiate career parlayed right into the beginning of a fantastic minor league career. In his first professional season, Sanchez won the New York Penn Leage batting title by hitting .355 and outhitting the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Jed Lowrie. His .401 OBP ranked seventh in the league and his .888 OPS placed eighth. He was also the Top Star in the NYPL All-Star Game.

While enjoying a(bother) spectacular .317/.447/.603 All-Star campaign at the A level in 2006, Sanchez had his season derailed due to injury, but he was able to make it back in time to pull on a Hammerheads uniform for the first time at the end of the year. Following that 16-game moonlighting performance and a .279/.379/.396 29-game regrouping in the Arizona Fall League, Sanchez spent all of 2007 in Jupiter. Coming off injury he played in 133 of 140 games, second most in the Florida State League and a welcome sight for the organization to see from its fourth-ranked prospect. He slashed .279/.369/.433 and appeared on a multitude of stat leaderboards: His 132 hits were 10th most in the league, his 40 doubles and 89 runs scored were each second most on the circuit, his 52 XBHs were fifth most, his 64 ranked seventh and his 1.16 K/BB ratio was fourth best.

A year later, Gaby made the jump to AA, a leap that didn’t hamper his production one bit. In 133 games (tied for third most) as a Carolina Mudcat, he hit .314/.404/.513/.917, marks which ranked ninth, seventh, eighth and sixth in the Southern League while he went up against the likes of Tommy Hanson, James Houser and Wade Davis. He paced the league in doubles with 42 while his 150 hits were third most on circuit, his 245 bases were second most, his career high 17 homers were seventh most and his 92 RBIs ranked second, making him an easy selection for a September call-up to the big leagues.

The highly durable and extremely patient and regular XBH threatening corner infielder went on to enjoy a .260/.334/.422, 43 homer, 84 double career as a Marlin which included an All-Star selection in 2010. The hometown kid is still a regular fixture on broadcasts and in charitable community work inside the community, making him a continuous face of the franchise.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Austin Nola (Photo by Scott Rovak/USA Today)

2B Austin Nola
Jupiter Stats (2013) – 124 G, .232/.331/.308, 26 XBH, 40 RBI, 92/54 K/BB

Nola is a four-year graduate out of LSU and, by way of a .296/.387/.425, 128/115 K/BB career stat line, the earner of a fifth round selection by the Marlins in the 2005 MLB Draft.

Nola spent his second year as a pro in Jupiter in his 2013 where he hit .232/.331/.308. The season served as a lead-in to a trio of solid campaigns in the upper levels of the minors. From 2014-2016, Nola hit .253 with a .334 OBP. He added some power to his game in the last of those years, smacking a career high six homers and 23 doubles for the New Orleans Zephyrs. The .261/.308/.376 campaign placed the middle infielder on the verge of his MLB debut. However with no real future with the club on the middle infield due to being blocked by Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria with JT Riddle and Derek Dietrich coming behind them, the Marlins chose to hold Nola back and attempt to transition him to one of the thinnest positions in the organization, catcher.

The experiment produced positive results as Nola proved his versatility had little boundaries. In 83 games and 629.1 innings behind the plate between AA and AAA in 2018, he threw out 27 of 38 potential base stealers. Nola’s bat struggled a bit through his learning process on the other side of the ball as he slashed just .233/.330/.311, but it came back in 2018 when he put it all together, hitting .279/.370/.376 and tossing out 37% of his runners.

At the end of 2018, Nola elected for free agency from the Marlins who had DFA’d and outrighted him earlier that year. A month later, he picked up with the Mariners who invited him to spring training. After just three months with the Tacoma Rainers in which he posted a booming .327/.415/.520 slash line, the super-est of super utility men finally made his MLB debut at age 30. While spending time at literally every position, Nola saw his offensive numbers translate as advantageously as possible to the bigs. In 79 games, he hit .269/.342/.454 with 10 homers, 23 XBH and a 63/23 K/BB. An extremely easy guy to get into games and a catalyst for giving guys days off, the durable 6’, 200 pounder who oozes “team player” heads into 2020 as the primary bench piece for Seattle.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Brian Anderson (Photo by Jupiter Hammerheads/MiLB

3B Brian Anderson
Jupiter Stats (2015/2016) – 173 G, .253/.325/.367, 11 HR, 49 XBH, 87 RBI, 147/62 K/BB

Anderson is the Marlins’ 2014 third rounder out of the University of Arkansas where he was a .327/.424/.493 hitter over the course of three seasons. At that time, one sports publication had this to say about him:

“He’s not an elite talent, which isn’t good for a player who projects to be a second baseman, but he has done nothing but perform in the SEC for three years. The 21-year-old hit a stellar .325/.448/.488 as a sophomore in 2013 and has followed that up with a career-high six homers this season. The holes in his game are pronounced, limiting his upside, but he has enough talent to suggest he can turn into a capable middle infielder/utility player in the future.”

Five years later, Anderson became one of baseball’s a top five third basemen.

Things started pretty primitively for Anderson in his first full big league season in Jupiter in 2015. Just breaking in to wood bat leagues in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, Andy  was humbled by a .235/.304/.340 slash line, made possible by a .287 BABIP and 20.6% K rate. However, it didn’t take Anderson long to adjust and continue developing as the Marlins’ top prospect. Back in a Hammerheads jersey to begin 2016, Brian slashed .302/.377/.440 while shrinking his K rate by more than two full points (18.4%), quickly earning him the call to AA Jacksonville after just 49 games. In 86 games with the newly named Jumbo Shrimp, he hit .243/.330/.359.

After hitting .273/.360/.506 and pacing the Arizona Fall League in homers with five, Anderson once again grew into his competition level as he returned to Jacksonville to hit .251/.341/.450 with 14 bombs and a 71/36 K/BB. On July 15, Andy got his call to AAA. Taking his final step towards his big league debut, he absolutely destroyed the hitters league, slashing .339/.416/.602 with eight homers in 33 games.

Anderson made his MLB debut on September 1st, 2017 and he has yet to look back. In 307 games, he’s hit .267/.349/.425 with 31 homers. Twenty of those long balls came last season, a .261/.342/.468 campaign. He’s one of eight MLB third basemen to post a WAR of at least 3 in each of his past two seasons, putting him in elite company. Entering his age 27 season with the most talented squad he’s ever had surrounding him, many have the .260+ hitter in each of his first three seasons tabbed to take yet another jump in 2020. With even bigger talent on the way, he is the cornerstone of the Marlins’ rebuild.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

L
J.T. Riddle (Photo by Brett Davis/USA Today)

SS J.T. Riddle
Jupiter Stats (2015) – 45 G, .270/.311/.314, 7 XBH, 29/11 K/BB

Riddle is one of many University of Kentucky draft selections by the previous regime. Attending from 2011-2013, he enjoyed a .283/.358/.384 career in the SEC. He also added a .232/.278/.344, two homer, 10 XBH showing in the Cape to his draft resume. The Marlins selected the swift-fielding, versatile shortstop in the fifth round of the 2013 Draft.

After hitting .252/.296/.356 between Batavia and Greensboro, Riddle joined the Hammerheads to begin 2015. Due to being pushed rather quickly due to age and the thinning of the shortstop position within the organization, Riddle’s stay in Jupiter was short. Short but pretty sweet. In 45 games, J.T. solidified himself as a for-average threatening defensive wizard. He hit .270 and posted a .976 fielding percentage by way of a 4.80 range factor at baseball’s most demanding position.

In late June, Riddle made the jump up to Jacksonville. In an equal amount of games (minus one) and nearly an equal amount of ABs, Riddle’s skill set in a more neutral hitting environment earned him a .289/.323/.422 slash line with five homers and 12 XBH. In more than twice as many games with the Suns in 2016, Riddle posted similar results: .278/.332/.368.

Following a 31-game matinee showing in AAA at the end of 2016, Riddle cracked the Marlins’ roster in 2017 and his MLB debut on Opening Day. Injuries would mar the rest of Riddle’s career with the Marlins. Due to left biceps tendinitis, his inaugural stint in the bigs lasted just 70 games. A season later, right shoulder tendinitis limited him to 102 MLB games. Last season, Riddle only played 85 total games due to a right forearm strain.

Riddle was DFA’d by the Marlins in December and elected free agency. He was signed by the Pirates on January 31st. All of his recent setbacks aside, the versatile infielder with a twitchy bat has a good chance to play a big role for a club in the nascent stages of a rebuild this coming season and beyond.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Miguel Cabrera (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

LF Miguel Cabrera
Jupiter Stats (2002) – 124 G, .274/.333/.421, 9 HR, 52 XBH, 75 RBI, 85/38 K/BB

A member of Marlins’ Mount Rushmore and quite possibly the first Fish to enter the Hall Of Fame likely as a first ballot selection, Miguel Cabrera was built for greatness.

A Marlins’ international signee at age 17 out of his high school in Venezuela, the man who would come to be affectionately known as ‘Miggy’ had a brief stay in the minor leagues. His longest visit was to Jupiter in 2002 where he hit .274/.333/.421 in 124 games. Playing against competition 3 1/2 years his elder, Cabrera paced the team in doubles with 43. He also placed third on the squad in batting average and fourth in slugging.

In 2003, Cabrera was assigned to AA. After 69 games worth of a .365/.429/.609 slash line with 10 homers and 42 XBH, the Marlins had seen enough of Miggy in the minors and called him up to the majors. His career was 368 games old. As the youngest player in all of Major League Baseball, Cabrera hit .268/.325/.468. It’s clear and present: without Miggy, there would’ve been no Marlins 2003 World Series championship. The baby faced infielder turned in a monstrous in the month of September, slashing .308/.370/.505 and provided some of the playoffs’ biggest moments. He went 4-5 in the NLDS series clinching victory against the Giants, he hit a grand slam in the NLCS clincher against the Cubs and he homered in the Marlins’ game four winner against the Yankees helping them tie the series and berthing a three-game title clinching win streak.

A two time league MVP, a Triple Crown winner, an eleven time All-Star and a 69.5 WAR figure, Cabrera’s accomplishments and talent measure up with some of the greatest of all time.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Christian Yelich (Photo by MiLB.com)

CF Christian Yelich
Jupiter Stats (2012) – 106 G, .330/.404/.519, 12 HR, 46 XBH, 48 RBI, 85/49 K/BB, 20/6 SB/CS

Two words describe Christian Stephen Yelich: baseball prodigy.

For the .416/.532/.730 prep hitter, playing baseball in Miami was a foregone conclusion. Yelich was first recognized by another the Hurricanes to which he made a verbal commitment for a full-ride scholarship. Then, in the winter of 2010, the Marlins called Yelich’s name in the first round with the 23rd overall pick. Yelich weighed his options for a while until finally on August 17th, just before the amateur signing period ended, the two agreed on an entry level contract to which a $1.7 million bonus was attached.

Yelich made the Marlins’ investment pay off almost immediately. Following a 12 game .362/400/.468 preview between the GCL and Greensboro to end his 2010 calendar year, he hit .312/.388/.484 for the 2011 Grasshoppers, placing 17th in the South Atlantic League in BA, 19th in OBP and 29th in slugging. Among his countable stats, Yelich’s 144 total hits ranked third, his 32 doubles ranked seventh, his 77 RBIs ranked 10th and his 15 homers ranked 16th.

Yelich spent his single full season with the Hammerheads in 2012. For a 20-year-old playing against guys three years his elder in the Florida State League, he posted an inconceivable .330/.404/.519 slash line. The league’s eight youngest player, those figures placed seventh, seventh and fourth league wide. His 12 homers also placed seventh and his 29 doubles ranked fifth. Yelich rounded out an audacious 2012 season by hitting .301/.343/.387 in the Arizona Fall League.

Yelich kicked off 2013 in Jacksonville. He hit .280/.365/.518 and was on pace for 25+ homers before the Marlins gave him his first big league call. The translation couldn’t have been better as Yelich lived out the rest of the year with the Marlins, hitting .288/.370/.396 with his first four big league homers, 17 XBH, 10 steals and 66/31 K/BB, preluding his four-of-five tool skill set.

A .290/.369/.432 hitter as a Marlin, an NL MVP in 2018 and an NL Triple Crown hitter last year, Yelich is well on his way to a Hall Of Fame worthy career.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Michael Stanton (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

RF Giancarlo Stanton
Jupiter Stats (2009) – 50 G, .294/.390/.578, 12 HR, 24 XBH, 45/28 K/BB

If you didn’t appreciate him at his Michael, you don’t deserve him at his Giancarlo.

Drafted out of Notre Dame High School in Southern California in 2007, Giancarlo Cruz Michael Stanton came to the bigs as a tall but lanky 6’5”, 190 pounder. A three sport athlete in high school, there was never any doubt about his natural raw athleticism or the fact that his physical frame would grow to match it. The Marlins were the first suitor to come calling for Stanton’s services, selecting him in the second round of the 2007 Draft, 76th overall. The club saw enough in Stanton’s projection to overwhelm him with a $475,000 bonus, well over slot value. Giancarlo forwent both football and basketball and a commitment to USC and put pen to paper.

A year later, Stanton jumped right into his first full pro season as a member of the Greensboro Grasshoppers. In 125 games, he hit .293/.381/.611. His 39 homers not only led the South Atlantic League, the total was one shy of the all-time league record set by Russell Branyan in 1996. Stanton’s average competition was nearly four years his elder.

Stanton began 2009 with the Hammerheads but he quickly proved he need not spend any more time in A ball. In 50 games, he hit .294/.390/.578 with 12 homers. On pace for 33 homers with the Florida State League’s second best slugging percentage, tenth best OBP and 22nd highest BA, he was given the call to AA. 132 games worth of .263/.365/.562, 37 HR, 105 RBI ball later, Stanton received his first MLB call.

From there, the rest is well-known history. After hitting 22 homers in 100 games in his rookie year, Stanton led the Marlins in homers every year from 2011-2017. In four of those seasons, he hit 30+, including his final season in Miami when he led all of baseball with 59 long balls and won the National League MVP Award and in 2014 when hit 37, most in the NL by way of a league-best .555 SLG (he barely lost the MVP award to Clayton Kershaw). All in all, Stanton smacked 267 career homers for the Marlins, a club record that will be tough to break. Giancarlo also holds Marlins career records in WAR (35.7), slugging percentage (.554), total bases (1983), RBI (672) and runs created (722).

As part of the Marlins’ very busy 2018 offseason, Stanton was shipped to the Yankees in exchange for Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman, both of whom are top 30 prospects for Miami. Following another a-typical season (.266/.343/.509, 38 HR, 100 RBI) which helped New York to a 100 win season and an ALDS berth, Stanton fell on hard times last year. Battling a multitude of injuries, he only appeared in 18 games. However, at 100%, Stanton stands tall as one of the most dangerous men in all of baseball and he has done so from a very young age. As long as he can stay on the field, he is well on his way to a Hall Of Fame worthy career.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

Jose Fernandez (Photo by Gary Coronado/Palm Beach Post)

SP Jose Fernandez
Jupiter Stats (2012) – 11 G, 7-1, 55 IP, 1.96 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 59/17 K/BB

Jose Fernandez never played a day in his life against competition younger than himself. However, whenever he was on the mound wherever it was, he dominated. He was king.

Jose’s story is the stuff of legend, both on and off the field. From how he saved his mother while defecting from Cuba to how he commanded the high school ranks and led his team to state championships in each his sophomore and senior years (the latter in which he went 13-1 with a 2.35 ERA and threw two no-hitters), Fernandez was a hero in the state of Florida before his career with the Marlins was ever a sure thing.

Miami selected Fernandez with their first round pick, 14th overall in the 2011 Draft. After single games with the GCL Marlins and short season Jamestown, Jose was assigned to A Greensboro to begin his first full season in 2012. In 79 innings as a Grasshopper, Fernandez was undefeated going 7-0 with a 1.82 ERA and 0.873 WHIP, marks which ranked second lowest and absolute lowest respectively in the South Atlantic League. Additionally, despite spending just 14 games in Greensboro, Jose’s 99 strikeouts were 22nd most in the league.

Jose’s tenure with the Hammerheads came in the second half of that same season. And the results kept coming.  In 55 IP: 7-1, 1.96 ERA (eighth in the Florida State League), 1.00 WHIP (10th in the league) and a 3.47 K/BB ratio (13th on the circuit).

Having never pitched above A ball, the Marlins saw enough in Jose’s ability to give him the call straight to the pros to begin 2013. As the youngest pitcher in the National League, Jose went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA second only to Clayton Kershaw. His 0.979 WHIP ranked third in his league and his 187 Ks ranked 14th. At season’s end, Fernandez was resoundingly named the NL Rookie Of The Year.

Injury limited the next two years of Jose’s career as he made just 19 starts between 2014 and 2015. Then, Fernandez came back with a vengeance. In 2016, by way of a 107.1 IP, 2.52 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 154/31 K/BB line, José earned his second All-Star selection. On September 20th of that year, Jose mowed straight through the eventual NL East division winning Washington Nationals, allowing just three bass runners (all hits) and striking out 12 in eight innings. Number 16 picked up his 16th victory making him just the seventh pitcher in Marlins history to win as many games.

Four days after the aforementioned outing against Washington, Jose, who had thrown 102+ pitches in each of his last six starts, learned that his final start of the season would be pushed back. That night, he ventured out with friends aboard his yacht, the aptly named “Kaught Looking”. During the early morning hours of September 25th, the craft hit a rock jetty just off the coast of Miami Beach. All three people aboard were killed.

Set to enter free agency for the first time in his career that offseason with a baby on the way, Jose was flying high. Today, he flies even higher albeit on a different plane of existence. It seems ironically cruel to think that the same waters that brought us the gift of Jose Fernandez, the same ocean that he breathed life into, took his life from his family and from us, his extended family. However, everyone who came to know José can take solace in the fact that in filling every single one of his days in America with as much joy and happiness as possible and making it a point to impart his infectious smile unto others, Jose Fernandez lived a lifetime. In just four short big league seasons, Fernandez — the Marlins’ all-time win/loss percentage leader (.692) via the club’s eighth most total strikeouts (581) — built a legacy that is cemented outside of Marlins Park, a legacy that will live on forever.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

AJ Ramos (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

RP AJ Ramos
Jupiter Stats (2011) – 49 G, 50.2 IP, 25 SV, 1.78 ERA, 1.105 WHIP, 71/19 K/BB

There’s gold in that there arm.

Alejandro “AJ” Ramos in the MLB ranks wasn’t always a sure thing, especially after he underwent Tommy John in his junior year at Texas Tech in 2008. However, the Marlins looked through the health issue, the 5.53 ERA and the 1.54 WHIP and brought Ramos to the big leagues with their 21st round Draft selection in 2009. Immediately, Miami converted Ramos to a relief role exclusively.

With less pressure on both his arm and mind, Ramos fireballed his way through the minor league ranks. Following 92 innings worth of 32 saves via a 3.13 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and  a128/46 K/BB in his first 74 games against wood bats in 2009 and 2010, Ramos made the trip to Jupiter in 2011. There, he posted a 1.78 ERA and ranked third in the Florida State League in saves, successfully turning in 25 of 28 save opportunities.

Ramos got a final year in the minor league ranks on on 2012. He transitioned to AA like a champ. In 55 games and 68.2 IP, he posted a 1.44 ERA and converted 21 of 25 via a 89/21 K/BB. His .152 BAA was a career low marker.

AJ made his MLB debut as a September call up on the 4th of the month. He struck out all three batters he faced. The perfect inning was an equally perfect  precursor to what became a 327.1 IP, 2.78 ERA, 1.228 WHIP, 379/173 K/BB, 92 SV six year career in Miami. He stands as the fourth-best closer in Marlins’ history via appearing in its third most games.

And it all ran through Jupiter.

To all who voted: thank you for your participation and assistance in our Twitter polls (@marlinsminors). We will hold our next series of polls in the coming week. The results will make up our All-Jacksonville squad.

Stay strong. Together, we will get through this.