Yadiel Rivera spent an entire season on the Miami Marlins roster, and literally didn’t hit his weight.
Through this offseason, Marlin Maniac, a FanSided blog, is looking at every player to appear in the Miami Marlins system last year. Rivera is the 258th part of a planned 286-part series.
Yadiel Rivera is a 6’2″, 175 lb. shortstop from Caguas, Puerto Rico, population 134,481. The city has yielded eleven major leaguers throughout history, most notably Alex Cora, Joey Cora, and Tony Bernazard.
Rivera attended Manuela Toro HS in his hometown, and in the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft was chosen in the ninth round by the Milwaukee Brewers, seven picks after Jacob deGrom. Picked 279th overall, Rivera is part of a group that has eight players in the major leagues. The “279 Club” is led by Doug Drabek (1983, Chicago White Sox, 29.3 career WAR) and Rusty Greer (1990, Texas Rangers, 22.4 WAR).
After signing with the Brewers on June 16th, just after the draft, Rivera got his first professional look with the Arizona Brewers, in the rookie-level Arizona League. He slashed .209/.243/.257 in 49 games for them at shortstop as an 18-year-old first-year player. Follow him on Twitter @YADIELRIVERA13.
In 2011, Rivera split his campaign between the rookie-level Helena Brewers in the Pioneer League and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in the full-season-A Midwest League. In 106 games combined between the two levels, Rivera slashed .236/.271/.372, with nine home runs and 43 RBI.
2012 would see Rivera spend the entire season back with Wisconsin. He led the team with 127 games played while slashing .247/.290/.402 with a dozen homers and 49 RBI. He also fielded adequately at shortstop, posting a .962 fielding percentage over 1122 2/3 innings.
In 2013, Rivera was moved up to the high-A Brevard County Manatees in the Florida State League. He slapped five homers with 37 RBI, slashing .241/.300/314 with a team-best 13 stolen bases. Steady on at short, Rivera fielded at .963 while taking 653 chances through the season.
Rivera split his time nearly evenly in 2014 between Brevard County and the double-A Huntsville Stars, in the Southern League. He played in 124 games and hit .258/.309/.374 with five homers, 10 stolen bases, and 30 RBI. Rivera fielded .956 in 95 games at short between the two levels, and also got 28 games at second base with the Manatees, where he collected a mark of .968.
In 2015, Rivera spent most of the season between Milwaukee’s top two minor league levels, the double-A Biloxi Shuckers in the Southern League, and the triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox in the Pacific Coast League. He turned in a .253/.298/.331 slashline in 133 contests, and even got his major league debut with the Brewers, going one-for-14 at the plate.
2016 would see Rivera getting a longer look in the majors, a 35 game hitch in total for Milwaukee in which he went 14-for-66 at the plate. He hit .212 with the Sky Sox in 83 games. In 2017, he slashed .218/.282/.314 in 107 games at Colorado Springs. On November 7th, 2017, Rivera was granted free agency by the Brewers. 17 days later, he signed a minor league deal to play for the Miami Marlins.
Rivera made the Marlins Opening Day roster after hitting .304 in Spring Training last season, and remained with the team through the entire season. Defensively, he made four errors in 28 games at shortstop for a .925 fielding percentage, but that wasn’t the whole story on that side of the ball. He showed a lot of modularity by also appearing at third base 29 times, and fielded 50 chances perfectly. He also made 11 appearances at second base, nine in the outfield, and five at first base, and didn’t make an error at any of those positions.
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Offensively, however, was a slightly different story. Rivera collected just 24 hits through the season in 111 games, with three two-hit games. He had one home run and nine RBI while slashing an anemic .173/.269/.216 at the plate. On May 1st, he was a walkoff hero in a 10th hit pinch-hit appearance when he knocked in Cameron Maybin from third with one out for a 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Phillies (see above). On July 2nd, Rivera entered a ninth inning contest against the Tampa Bay Rays, subbing in for Justin Bour at first base while the Marlins were leading 2-1. After the Rays tied the game, Rivera knocked in Brian Anderson with a single in the bottom of the 10th to give the Marlins a 3-2 win.
After the season, on December 10th, Rivera was sent outright to the minors. Still with the club, he can compete for an Opening Day roster spot in Spring Training, but will probably spend a portion of the season with the New Orleans Baby Cakes in the triple-A level Pacific Coast League.