Bang and Bust (But Mostly Bust): The 1992 Florida Marlins Draft
We’re really prospect focused here at Marlin Maniac. I think we publish as many prospect pieces as we do on the parent club. Today is no different, but we’re going to take a look at our past. Just how many 1992 Florida Marlins draftees ended up with the team? The answer may frustrate you.
Back in 1992, the draft was a much different animal. It was a time before Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and even most of the websites you’re familiar with. First round selections were announced after the first day of drafting. All subsequent rounds were not public information until later in the month.
Even getting drafted in the first round is no guarantee of major league success. We know now in hindsight that of the 38 draft picks for the 28 existing teams, 15 players never made it out of the minors. Of course, the highest career WAR of any player taken in the round that season was Derek Jeter (Sixth pick, New York Yankees, 72.4). Other notable selections include Johnny Damon (35th, Kansas City Royals, 56.4), Jason Kendall (23rd, Pittsburgh Pirates, 41.7), and Shannon Stewart (19th, Toronto Blue Jays, 24.9). With the 28th overall selection, the Florida Marlins made their first ever draft pick a catcher.
Charles Johnson was picked near the end of the first round for the Marlins. He had previously been a first round pick of the Montreal Expos back in 1989, 10th overall. Instead of signing, Johnson honored his University of Miami commitment, starting three seasons for the Hurricanes. In 191 games, Johnson slashed .325/.420/.584 with 38 home runs and 153 RBI.
Johnson would make quick work of the Florida Marlins minor league system, joining the Kane County Cougars in 1993 and slashing .275/.356/.471 in 135 games, slugging 19 home runs for the single-A level Midwest League team. In 1994, he starred for the double-A Portland Sea Dogs, hitting 28 home runs and slashing .264/.371/.524 over 132 contests. It was the last significant minor league time that Johnson would spend. He made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins on May 6th of that year, and in a cup of coffee was five-for-11 with a home run over 13 games. In a harbinger of things to come for Johnson, he threw out one-of-one base stealers in his limited time behind the plate.
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In 1995, Johnson won his first of four consecutive Gold Gloves and finished seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. Hideo Nomo won it in that season. For Johnson’s part, he slashed .251/.351/.410 in a lockout-shortened season, appearing in 97 games and hitting 11 homers with 39 RBI. He also threw out 43% of opposing would-be base-stealers, ranking third in the NL.
Johnson regressed offensively in 1996, slashing just .218/.292/.358 in 120 games. He still smacked 13 round-trippers and finished with 37 RBI and ranked second in the NL with a 48% CS rate.
Johnson earned enough NL MVP votes to finish 11th in the race in 1997, slashing .250/.347/.454 in 124 games for the eventual World Champions. He also again threw out 48% of base stealers to rank third in the Senior Circuit. Johnson went on to bat .264 over 16 postseason contests, with two homers and 10 RBI.
Exodus and Return
31 games into Johnson’s fourth full major league season, the Marlins traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Manuel Barrios, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich, and Gary Sheffield for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. Over the next two-and-a-half seasons, Johnson also played for the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox. In December 2000, Johnson tested free agency and signed with the Florida Marlins once again.
Johnson made his second and final all-star appearance in 2001 for the Fish. Over the next two years, he hit .245/.314/.422 with 24 homers and 111 RBI. Later, Johnson spent two seasons with the Colorado Rockies and a year with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He also continued to outstrip the league average CS rate by about 10%, pegging 41% of base stealers.
Over Johnson’s 12 season major league career, he never appeared defensively at any position other than catcher.
John Lynch was a 6’2″, 215 lb. right-handed starter out of Stanford University. He only appeared in nine minor league games for the Florida Marlins, going 1-3 with a 2.35 ERA, 19 whiffs in 38 innings, and a 1.49 WHIP between the 1992 Erie Sailors and the 1993 Kane County Cougars. He didn’t again appear in professional baseball.
Rich Ireland was an 18-year-old left-hander from Central Point, Oregon. He spent parts of two seasons with the GCL Marlins, totaling a 5-5 record and a 4.02 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. He was out of baseball after 1993.
Willie Brown was a 6’2″, 200 lb. outfielder from Edison, Georgia. He played four seasons of minor league ball at four levels of the Florida Marlins system. He never rose above the high-A Brevard County Manatees, slashing .225/.320/.400 through his professional career. He didn’t appear after 1995.
Alex Aranzamendi was a 6’2″, 190 lb. shortstop out of Puerto Rico. He also didn’t get above the Cougars, spending three seasons in minor league ball. In 101 games, he slashed .258/.315/.353.
The only other future major leaguer to be selected in the Florida Marlins first ever draft was the worst player to ever appear with the team. With a resounding 3.9 Wins Below Replacement, Andy Larkin put together one of the worst seasons in major league history. According to Fish Stripes:
"Larkin wasn’t very good in 1998. He appeared in 17 contests, 14 of them starts. He posted a 3-8 record and an incredible 9.64 ERA in 74.2 innings. He had a 2.089 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. According to highheatstats.blogspot.ro, it was the fifth worst single season performance in the history of baseball."
Larkin later went on to pitch for the Cincinnati Reds and for the Kansas City Royals, but the Brad Hand/Andrew Miller phenomenon is a recent one. A lousy starter doesn’t always become a great reliever.
50 rounds of picks, and the Florida Marlins only got two future major leaguers out of it. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers did worse, picking only Keith Johnson in the fourth round. Johnson was two-for-four in six games. That was his entire career. 25-of-28 teams had five or more future major leaguers through the 1992 draft.
Next: The Miami Marlins and the Relocation Blues
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