Jacksonville stop brings Koehler back to championship year

Right-hander among Marlins players to pass through club's Double-A affiliate

Jacksonville stop brings Koehler back to championship year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Marlins right-hander Tom Koehler walked around the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville when he first arrived at the ballpark Saturday, saying he wanted to relive some old memories.

Koehler had one of the best years ever by a Suns pitcher when he recorded a 16-2 record with a 2.81 ERA in 2010. He's the only Southern League pitcher to have won more than 15 games in the past 16 years.

"Yeah, it was a great season," said the Marlins' No. 3 starter. "But the thing I remember the most that year was the last game of the season. That's when [former Marlins pitcher] Chris Hatcher hit the walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning that gave us the Southern League championship. Chris was a catcher for the Suns back then and was really struggling at the plate in the series, probably only hitting 100.

"But I told someone before Chris came up to the plate, if that pitcher grooves one in there, Chris will send it out. Sure enough, first pitch, he hits it over the left-field wall. What a great finish to a great year."

Worth noting

• Miami will begin the 2015 season in good health, with only one player likely to start the year on the disabled list. That's right-hander Jose Fernandez, who is still recuperating from last year's Tommy John surgery. That the Marlins were able to stay healthy through Spring Training was good news for manager Mike Redmond.

"That's a key for everybody and us especially," Redmond said. "We're in good shape right now. Our guys have done a good job of taking care of themselves, and we're ready to go."

Marcell Ozuna started the 2013 season on the DL before a promotion to Double-A Jacksonville on April 20. It didn't take him long to show he belonged at a higher level. In a 10-game homestand with the Suns, he hit .333 with an on-base percentage of .383. Among his 14 hits were five home runs, three doubles and a triple to give him a slugging percentage of .810. He also drove in 15 runs.

"I remember I was hitting the ball real well," Ozuna said before Saturday's game against the Suns. "Everything was going good for me, and then I get the news that I'm being sent to Miami. It was a great feeling.

"I'm real comfortable with the Marlins right now. I know there's pressure on us three outfielders to do well and hit a lot of home runs, but that's part of the game. Right now I just want to get the season started and stay healthy all year. This is the best Marlins team I've been on, and we're looking for big things."

Giancarlo Stanton was a workaholic when he was in Jacksonville, often spending as much as 45 minutes after a game going through a training routine that he had established. He said it was in Jacksonville that he established his work ethic, one that he's carried on to the big leagues.

"I remember that [reporters] would always want to talk to the pitcher and the manager first, so that was time that I could use to help prepare me for the next game," Stanton said. "I always tried to do something, whether it was to go back into the [batting] cage or do some running or something. I wasn't where I wanted to be, so I had to keep working to get where I wanted to be. It paid off in the long run, but I've still got things to do. I'm not there yet."

Jeff Elliott is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.