We all know the big-named young pitching phenoms. There is the Dodgers established Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw at the ripe age of 25. This years media attention grabber has been 24 year old Matt Harvey of the Mets. 23 year old Matt Moore of the Rays leads the league with a sparkling 8 wins (with 0 losses). But there is one pitcher on the rise who has fell under the radar of the common fan. Enter 20 year old Jose Fernandez.
The self destructing Miami Marlins truly have almost nothing to look forward to this year. After owner Jeffrey Loria basically dismantled the entire team that failed to perform to expectations last season, the Marlins and their fan base were reduced to a figurative baseball wasteland of AAA players and 35 year old veterans on one year contracts, looking for one last shot in the big leagues. But in that rough lies a diamond, Jose Fernandez. The 20 year old defector from Cuba spent very little time in the minor leagues, posting a 1.75 ERA for multiple single A affiliates of the Marlins in 2012, while striking out 158 batters in 134 innings while walking a microscopic 35 batters. All of this at the age of 19! This was all the pitching-deprived Marlins needed to see to give him a spot in the 2013 rotation. So far, the 14th overall pick of the 2011 draft has impressed scouts and has caused frustration upon hitters. His 95+ mph fastball already has pinpoint accuracy and is near impossible to catch up to when thrown up and in. Along with that fastball, he possesses a fairly hard curveball that will buckle hitters knees, and a slider that cuts like a razor, leaving hitters flailing. This year in 9 starts he has pitched to the tune of a pedestrian-like 3.31 ERA, but has struck out nearly one batter per inning, posting 8.4 Ks per 9 innings. Along with that, he has only walked 18 batters. And must I state again, this is at the age of 20! To compare, Kershaw in his first 9 career starts, who was also a 20 year old rookie, struck out 35 batters in 41.2 innings with a inflated 5.18 ERA, while walking 27.
To be an ace, not only must you have electric stuff, but you must have a tough demeanor. Fernandez lived in Cuba and was desperately trying to flee the country with his family to get to the land of opportunity, the United States of America. He tried multiple times to flee, but was unsuccessful and was jailed three times. On the fourth try, he was almost successful when he noticed a woman on his boat fell off in shark infested waters. He selflessly jumped off to save this woman, only to find out later it was his own mother, as they successfully made it to America. He avoided Cuban feds, swam shark infested waters, and fled a dangerous country. He might be the toughest guy in the league already. So comparatively, I think Bryce Harper or Miguel Cabrera strike little to no fear in this future ace.
- Loria’s meddling irks charges (sports.yahoo.com)
- Miami Marlins: 2 Players Who Should Be Viewed as Future Franchise Cornerstones (bleacherreport.com)
- Jeff Loria personally demanded that Jose Fernandez and Ricky Nolasco be flip-flopped in that doubleheader (hardballtalk.nbcsports.com)