Amid all of the higher profile signings going around the majors this December, including Miami’s acquisition of outfielder Corey Dickerson yesterday, there were also some minor deals going on.
Aaron Northcraft is a six-foot-four, 230 lb. right-handed relief pitcher from Tuscon, AZ. Born on May 28th, 1990, the new Marlins reliever was initially a 10th round choice of the Atlanta Braves in the 2009 MLB Amateur Entry Draft.
Northcraft scrabbled up the Braves farm system as a starter until 2014, when he peaked with the Gwinnett Braves in the Triple-A International League. He went 0-7 with a 6.54 ERA over 10 starts, and Atlanta traded him after the season with Justin Upton to the San Diego Padres for Jace Peterson, Dustin Peterson, Max Fried, and Mallex Smith.
Northcraft then played two seasons in the Padres organization, splitting his time mostly between the Double-A San Antonio Missions in the Texas League and the El Paso Chihuahuas in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League (PCL). After splitting his time between the respective rotations and bullpens for the two affiliates, he elected free agency after the 2016 campaign.
To this point in his professional career, Northcraft hadn’t really shown the baseball illuminati anything special aside from a decent walk-rate. He didn’t sign anywhere for two years, and came on as a free agent with the Seattle Mariners prior to 2019 Spring Training.
In 31 relief appearances between three levels of Seattle’s system, mostly with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers in the PCL, Northcraft pitched to a 2.03 ERA and struck out 39 in 40 innings. He only surrendered 24 hits in all that time, leading to a commendable 0.925 WHIP.
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Now 29-years-old, Northcraft elected to pursue free agency following this latest season, and got a nibble from the Miami Marlins in the form of a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training.
Where does Northcraft fit? I couldn’t really say for sure. Likely he’s bound for the PCL’s Wichita Wind Surge, but with a strong spring and injuries remaining an unpredictable mistress, he could fit nicely in the Marlins bullpen.
We’ll continue to keep our eyes on the transaction line in the meantime. Until Spring Training, and throughout the year, keep tuned to Marlin Maniac for all Marlins news.