Jose Fernandez (RHP – Miami Marlins)
Greensboro Grasshoppers vs. Lakewood Blue Claws May 11th 2012 in Lakewood New Jersey
7 IP, 1 ER, 5 Hits, 0 BB, and 7 K’s
With the unexpected promotion of Jose Fernandez to the Major Leagues, I thought I would go back into the archives and publish my scouting notes from last May as well as observations I made in the fall when I saw the young right-handed hurler again.
When looking at Fernandez, it’s hard not to be impressed by the mature physicality of the body. He’s 6-foot-2 and 240 sturdy pounds. He carries himself very well on the mound, projecting that ever so elusive mound presence. What exactly is that? I see it as an attitude and look that he is in charge and belongs. Fernandez has it and more.
His four-seam fastball sat consistently at 92-94 while hitting 97 multiple times throughout the game. Due to his physicality and excellent pitching mechanics, he was able to hold his velocity throughout the game and delivered several 96’s and 7’s in the 6th inning. There is some deception to the deliver which hitters had trouble picking up allowing his fastball to play-up that much more. He also threw several two-seamers with a lot of arm side run. His slider was a true plus-pitch that sat 82-84 with sharp cutting action. He didn’t throw many changeups nor did he have to, as the stuff was too much for the Blue Claw hitters.
Fernandez mechanics are solid with very good posture and balance that should help him keep his release point. The delivery is free and easy, with the impression that he’s simply playing catch, except with a 95 MPH fastball. From the stretch, he avoids the slide step and this helps him keep his mechanics solid, something that usually takes years for pitchers to learn.
His command was excellent that evening with the ability to throw his fastball to both sides of the plate. While his slider was unhittable, he wasn’t always able to throw it for strikes. This will come with time as he learns to control his stuff.
Needless to say I was impressed with Fernandez after my May trip but also had a chance to see him in short bursts during the fall and the stuff was just as good. He did throw more changeups and while there was some deception, it lagged behind his fastball and slider.
Ok, so you get it…Jose Fernandez arsenal is elite and he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter with an ace ceiling. However, he’s 20-years-old with less than 140 innings of professional baseball under his belt, so is he ready for the major leagues? While the easy answer is to say no, he needs more experience, there are some other factors that lead me to believe, he’s more ready than most people think.
First is the makeup. While most American teenagers are doing, well…teenage stuff like texting and hanging out with friends, Jose Fernandez had to escape Cuba with his family and then adapt to a culture and country in which he was unfamiliar. While I will not review the story of his escape, it’s compelling and will quickly make you understand why the Marlins believe he is up for the challenge.
Secondly, he was dominating in Spring Training, particularly in the final two minor league games in which he faced legitimate Double-A hitters. His velocity and arsenal looked similar to what I saw in Lakeland last year, except that his changeup was more developed. Plus, the fastball command looked good and he was aggressively attacking hitters.
Do I believe he’ll be as dominating in the Majors? No, but I also believe that he will hold his own with a chance to be very effective over his first few outings. However, major league hitters will quickly expose his deficiencies and this is when his inexperience could play a factor. Will he be able to react to the adjustments? The Marlins must think he can and I for one, can’t wait to find out.