Jorge Cantu spent three seasons with the Florida Marlins from 2008 through mid-2010.
Although Jorge Cantu had an eventual eight-season major league career, his time with the Marlins resulted in inarguably his best sustained results. A six-foot-three, 205 lb. corner infielder from McAllen, TX, Cantu was never drafted. At the age of 17 he joined the Hudson Valley Renegades in the Short-season-A New York-Penn League for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Born 38 years ago today, Cantu worked his way up through the Rays’ system for the next five+ seasons, ranking fifth in the Southern League with 31 doubles in 2002 for the Double-A Orlando Rays and ranking third in the International League with a .576 SLG in 2004 in 95 games for the Triple-A Durham Bulls.
That slugging percentage at triple-A didn’t keep Cantu from making a solid splash at the major league level with the Rays in the same season. In 50 games for Tampa Bay, he hit .301/.341/.462, and earned a return ticket for the 2005 season.
Cantu led the Rays in 2005 with 28 home runs and 117 RBI, hitting .286/.311/.497 in 150 games. Although he only struck out 83 times in 630 PA for a solid 13.2 percent K-rate, he only drew 19 walks the entire season, good for a walk-rate only a hair over three percent. Limited to 132 games for Tampa Bay over the next two-seasons, Cantu was a trade-deadline casualty to the Cincinnati Reds.
Prior to the 2008 season, Cantu was signed by the Florida Marlins through free agency on a minor-league deal. He led a very strong Marlins offense with 95 RBI in 155 games, ranking fourth on the team with a career-best 29 home runs.
Let that sink in for a moment. Hanley Ramirez (33), Mike Jacobs (32), and Dan Uggla (32) all topped 30, joined by Cantu and Cody Ross (22) to make five 20+ HR players. Jeremy Hermida (17) and Josh Willingham (15) also contributed to the cause, helping the 84-77 Marlins to rank second in the National League with 208 home runs.
But back to Cantu – he slashed .277/.327/.481 in that season, somehow ranking fifth on the team in SLG. The following year would see him slash .289/.345/.442 in 149 contests, with 16 homers and a team-second 100 RBI. He ranked fifth in the N.L. with 42 doubles, tied with Ramirez fro the club-lead, and helped the Marlins go 87-75. To date, that’s the best non-World Series Champion record that the Florida/Miami franchise has finished with.
The first 97 games of the 2010 campaign would see Cantu slash .262/.310/.409 with 10 home runs and 54 RBI. Near the trade-deadline, the Marlins sent him to the Texas Rangers for Omar Poveda and Evan Reed.
More from Marlins History
- Miami Marlins One-Year Wonder 1B
- Miami Marlins players & the 2023 Hall of Fame
- Former Miami Marlins star is retiring
- Gary Sheffield or Mark Buehrle, will either Marlin make the Hall of Fame?
- Why don’t we see more dynasties? Part 3
Cantu played in 30 games for Texas, hitting just .235, then hit .194 for the San Diego Padres in 2011. He hasn’t appeared in the majors since. In 2012, he appeared in 21 games for the Salt Lake Bees in the Anaheim Angels system, but soon thereafter began a career in the Mexican League that’s still going strong.
In 2015, Cantu played in 106 games for the Quintana Roo Tigres, and managed to slash out a .351/.426/.623 line with 25 home runs and 100 RBI. In 74 games for the Mexico City Red Devils in 2019, Cantu hit .283/.351/.488 with a dozen homers and 38 RBI at the age of 37.
Cantu still has the spark, and after hitting .270 or better in five of his six full seasons in the Mexican League, doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. We here at Marlin Maniac appreciate his solid contribution to the last good over-.500 team we’ve had, and wish him continued luck in the future.