Jobu continues his Rookie Spotlight Series by introducing you to the newest Marlin.
I know the season already started, and we haven’t chosen which rookies we’ll be following throughout the MLB season, but there’s so many intriguing rookies to cover! Today, we’ll take a look at a guy who probably shouldn’t be on a big league roster, but it’s the Marlins, so he technically isn’t. Seriously… has anyone looked at their roster? Egads! Anywho, meet José Fernández.
When I said before that this kid probably shouldn’t be on a big league roster, it was not in any way a knock on his talent, or him as a person. It’s a knock on the Marlins, who I guess need to put butts in the seats somehow (and fill in temporarily for injured starters Henderson Álvarez and Nathan Eovaldi), and you can’t blame them for trying to do that with some young blood on the roster. We all remember in the mid-1990s, when the Chicago Cubs put a 12-year old pitcher in their bullpen because he had developed the ability to throw in the high 90s after breaking his arm trying to impress some girls by catching a baseball. Teams do it all the time.
Fernández’s story is a good one. The 20-year old is the top prospect in the Marlins’ organization (seventh overall in baseball), but getting to the big leagues isn’t even close to the biggest challenge he’s had in his life. Fernández was born in Santa Clara, Cuba. Like many other Cubans, he defected to the United States for a chance at a better life (and a baseball career). Although he finally made it out at age 15, he suffered through three other unsuccessful attempts to defect. His family was captured and returned to Cuba, where he served a few months in prison combined for the different attempts to get his freedom. Yes, a teenager was sent to jail for months… yikes. The last trip he made ended up making him a bit of a hero, as he jumped into the water to save a woman who had fallen overboard. Turns out, it was his mother. How about that?
As far as baseball is concerned, I don’t think Fernández has too much to worry about. The scouting reports say he’s a beast. He’s 6’2″ and 240 lbs, so he’s not gonna by a skinny rookie just barely filling out his uniform. First of all, kid throws gas, averaging about 94-95 mph on his fastball (it has touched 99 at times). He follows that up with some solid, but still developing, secondary pitches. By the time it’s all said and done, he should be a good one. That’s why the Marlins took him 14th overall in the 2011 draft.
Last year, his first full one in professional baseball, Fernández was pretty unbelievable. He went 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA and struck out 158 guys in 134 innings with just 35 walks. The problem is that he has never pitched above A+ ball. That’s why I don’t think he should be on the Marlins major league roster. Let’s hope the jump from A+ to the bigs isn’t too much for the kid to handle. With his history though, I bet if anyone can adjust, it’ll be him.
We’ll find out on April 7th, when he makes his major league debut against the Mets in New York.
Featured image courtesy of: (Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports)
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