The entire Astros organization has one significant connection to South Florida: the spring training facility they share with the Nationals. The new ballpark opened this spring in West Palm Beach, bringing doubling the number of teams (along with the Marlins and Cardinals) who hold their preseason activities in Palm Beach County.
Houston’s closer is a former draft pick of the Florida Marlins, selected in the 44th round in 2009 out of his New Mexico high school. He didn’t sign, however, and two years later was the Phillies’ seventh-rounder.
RHP Ken Giles: OF Cameron Maybin:
Nearly 10 years ago, Maybin came to the Marlins as one of the prized prospects in the Miguel Cabrera/Dontrelle Willis trade with the Tigers. He didn’t amount to much in South Florida — slashing .257/.323/.391 in parts of three seasons before the Marlins traded him to San Diego — but has gone on to earn more than $30 million over 11 seasons.
Bench coach Alex Cora:
Although he was born and raised in Puerto Rico, Cora played his college ball at the University of Miami, where he manned shortstop for three College World Series teams from 1994-96. UM added Cora to their Hall of Fame in 2006.
RHP Lance McCullers Jr.:
He didn’t grow up on this side of the state — he went to Jesuit High in Tampa — but Marlins fans might recognize the name because he was close friends with the late Jose Fernandez. Before McCullers started a game at Marlins Park this year, he said he writes Fernandez’s number, 16, on the back of the mound before each of his games.
RHP Brad Peacock:
Born in Palm Beach and a graduate of Palm Beach Central high in Wellington, Peacock was a 41st-round pick of the Nationals in 2006. Peacock also attended Palm Beach Community College in Lake Worth. Acquired by New York in a midseason trade with the White Sox, Kahnle was originally a Yankees fifthround draft pick in 2010 out of Lynn University in Boca Raton. He became the first Fighting Knight to make it to the majors in April 2014, when he made his major league debut for the Rockies — against the Marlins, in Miami.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild:
When the Marlins won the 1997 World Series, Rothschild was their pitching coach. After serving in that role from 1995-97, he became the first manager in Tampa Bay Devil Rays history, but was fired in April 2001 and finished that season as a consultant to the Marlins.
Third-base coach Joe Espada:
Though his Marlins ties date back to 2001, when he played a half-season for their Triple-A affiliate, the bulk of his work with the club came on the coaching side. He was a minor league hitting coach from 2006-07, the minor league infield coordinator in from 2008-09, and major league third-base coach from 2010-13.
Bullpen coach Mike Harkey:
Harkey was the bullpen coach for Girardi’s Marlins in 2006.
Houston’s Cameron Maybin came to the Marlins nearly 10 years ago in the trade that netted the Detroit Tigers one Miguel Cabrera.