Jonaiker Villalobos made his stateside debut in 2018 with the GCL Marlins.
As Spring Training quickly approaches, we’re finishing up our offseason-long series on every player to appear in the Miami Marlins system in 2018. This article is the 277th-of-286.
Jonaiker Enrique Villalobos is a 6′, 160 lb. left-handed batting and throwing pitcher from El Paraiso, Venezuela, population 122,846. No native of the city has ever advanced to the majors, in fact, none have made it further than Villalobos.
Born on July 11th, 1999, Villalobos signed his first professional deal with the Miami Marlins on his 16th birthday, July 11th, 2015. His first assignment as a pro was with the DSL Marlins, in the rookie-level Dominican Summer League for the 2016 season.
Villalobos pitched in a team-third 16 contests, starting one of them for DSL. He had 32 K’s in 39 2/3 innings, posting a 1.51 WHIP and a 4.76 ERA to go with his 1-2 record. The DSL Marlins that season were nearly historically bad, finishing with a 10-56 record.
In 2017, Villalobos got another season with the DSL Marlins. Although his strikeout rate went down, all of his other metrics improved. He struck out only 24 in 40 innings, going 4-1 with a 1.13 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He also saved two games for the club, who improved to 40-29 to finish third in the DSL Northwest Division.
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Villalobos was laterally promoted to the GCL Marlins in the Florida-based rookie-level Gulf Coast League for the 2018 season. The returns weren’t great. Villalobos did save one game, but collected an 11.40 ERA over his 13 relief appearances. Opponents hit .397/.444/.562 in 81 plate appearances, and Villalobos posted a 2.40 WHIP, with 18 K’s in 15 innings. The GCL Marlins posted a 25-31 record overall.
Villalobos is still rostered with the GCL Marlins currently, but could join the Batavia Muckdogs in the short-season-A New York-Penn League with a good month. Still just 19-years-old, the Miami Marlins will give him a long leash considering his perceived potential.
Marlin Maniac has nine more players to review from last season. Tune in for pitcher Andrew Miller, infielder Isan Diaz, outfielder Rafael Ortega, pitcher Tyler Mitzel, reliever Jumbo Diaz, pitcher Raul Brito, 6’8″ major league pitcher Tayron Guerrero, reliever C.J. Carter, and major league starter Pablo Lopez.