On June 6th, 2011, the Miami Marlins selected right-handed pitcher Jose Fernandez out of Braulio Alonso High School with the 14th overall pick of the first round in the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft.
As of now, it’s hard to say they could have made a better choice.
Fernandez came into 2013 on the Marlins 25-man roster, and the #5 prospect in all of baseball (Baseball America). At the age of 20, and with the amount of talent that the righty clearly possessed, there was an immense of hype surrounding him.
In case you’re wondering, he lived up to all of the hype and then some.
A 12-6 record, a 2.19 ERA, 187 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance, and the NL Rookie of the Year award, I’d say that’s a decent season. 2014 started with even higher expectations, after the year that he had, he was proclaimed one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
Fernandez has a pattern of living up to expectations, striking out 9 and only allowing one run over 6 innings of work and getting the win. He continued his dominance on his second start on Saturday, striking out 8 in 6 and two-thirds inning of work, lowering his ERA to 0.71, and grabbing his second win. Through two starts, it’s apparent that Jose isn’t ready for a sophomore slump.
Now maybe it’s too soon to start praising Fernandez this season, seeing as he’s only made two starts, but as of now, he’s pitching as good as anyone in the entire league. He’s striking players out at an impressive rate (12.1 K/9, to be specific) and has only issued two walks in 13 and two-thirds innings of pitching.
Looking at the Marlins team as a whole, it would appear that the team will be living and dying by the success of Jose Fernandez (and Giancarlo Stanton, offensively). Plain and simple, this kid has the potential to be both the face of the franchise, and the face of pitching in the MLB.
Now the question comes, what’s the scariest thing about Fernandez? His fastball? Nope. His curveball? Wrong. It’s actually the fact that he’s only 21, and is already in talks as the best pitcher in the league, and is showing no signs of backing off of that claim.
Jose finished third in NL Cy Young voting last season, behind St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright in second, and the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw taking home the trophy for himself. Just the season after coming in third, Jose could be already boosting himself into being the favorite to win the highest honor for pitching in the National League.
The Miami Marlins will be building around Fernandez for years, and Fernandez is ready to take this team from the cellar of the NL East to the top, all behind one talented right arm.
Shawn McFarland covers the MLB for Call to the Pen