Throughout the 2018/2019 offseason, Marlin Maniac will devote one article each for every player who appeared in the Miami Marlins system for the 2018 season. Every. Single. Player. This is Part 112 of 286. For the first 100, click here.
Eli Daniel Villalobos is a 6’4″, 195 lb. right-handed relief pitcher from La Habra, California, also the origin of former major leaguer Alan Newman. Villalobos was born on June 26th, 1997, and played college ball for Long Beach State University.
In two seasons of relief work (and two starts) for the 49ers, Villalobos went 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA, 67 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings, and a 1.41 WHIP. In the 2018 MLB Amateur Draft, the Miami Marlins chose him with their 14th round selection, with the 417th overall pick.
Players selected with the 417th selection have made it to the major leagues 11 percent of the time, or six-of-54. The group is led by Bud Black (1979, Seattle Mariners, 20.9 career WAR) and Greg Hibbard (1986, Kansas City Royals, 5.2 WAR).
After signing with the Miami Marlins for a $125,000 bonus, Villalobos was assigned to the GCL Marlins, in the Florida-based, rookie-level Gulf Coast League. In his professional debut, on June 30th, Villalobos struck out two in his inning of work as the GCL Cardinals defeated the Marlins, 8-1. He soon thereafter earned a promotion, but stayed in the same place with the high-A Jupiter Hammerheads in the Florida State League.
In his only high-A appearance of the season, on July 6th, Villalobos surrendered two runs in an inning as the Daytona Tortugas defeated the Hammerheads 8-0. On July 9th, he was reassigned to the short-season-A Batavia Muckdogs in the New York-Penn League.
After all the reassigning in a relatively short time, it must have been nice for Villalobos to actually stick in one place for a couple of months. He appeared in 14 contests for Batavia, going 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA in 18 2/3 innings of work. He struck out 17 and walked nine, allowing 12 earned runs and a 1.607 WHIP over 89 plate appearances. Opponents slashed .273/.356/.312, with only three extra-base hits, all doubles.
More from Marlins Prospects
- Miami Marlins: Checking in on prospects from the 2022 Arizona Fall League
- Miami Marlins: How top 2022 MLB Draft picks performed this season
- What’s wrong with Kahlil Watson?
- Miami Marlins: Farm System rankings part 2
- Miami Marlins: Farm System rankings part 1
All of Villalobos’ bad outings came in a four game stretch from July 22nd through August 4th, a time during which he put up a 24.55 ERA and an opposing OPS of 1.216. Aside from that, he gave up six hits in 15 innings, with nine walks and 14 strikeouts. On August 10th, he struck out three over 1 2/3 perfect innings in a 5-3 loss to the Auburn Doubledays. He struck out a season-high four batters in two innings on August 22nd, in a 9-3 win over the West Virginia Black Bears.
The Muckdogs ended the season with a 36-40 record, third place in the six-team Pinckney Division. Villalobos’ performance should be enough for the Miami Marlins to continue their association with him, probably with the single-A Clinton LumberKings to begin the 2019 campaign. Continued improvements in his development spell out his best case scenario, a chance to make the parent club, probably around 2022 Spring Training.
Thanks for reading. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and subscribe to our daily newsletter to keep up with the Miami Marlins.