Draft | Top Prospects | 4/27/2011

50 in 50: Jose Fernandez

Photo: Ryan Young

Jose Fernandez
RHP / Alonso High School

Bats-Throws:                R-R
Height/Weight:             6-3/215
Hometown:                   Tampa, FL
College Commitment:  U. South Florida
Birthdate:                     August 31, 1992

SCOUTING PROFILE:  Fernandez’ route to a potential spot in the first round of the draft and the million dollar plus signing bonus that comes with it has been longer and more complicated than any other similar prospect in this draft….perhaps more so than all of them combined.  Fernandez was born and raised in Cuba and even pitched for the Cuban National Junior team.  However, like many talented Cuban players, Hernandez tried to escape the island for the greener pastures of baseball and life in the United States but was caught and returned before finally making it successfully to the United States on his fourth try in 2009.  Once in Tampa things didn’t get necessarily easier, as the Florida High School Athletic Association declared Fernandez ineligible this past winter, saying that year he spent in Cuba under arrest following his first failed attempt constituted a year of high school eligibility used.  That decision was wisely reversed, ironically probably costing Fernandez money that he could have commanded as a free agent with 30 teams bidding on him in a Aroldis Chapman-type free agent situation.  With a lifetime worth of politics and uncertainty behind him, that’s left Fernandez to do what he does best, which is pitch.  He is a power pitcher of the highest magnitude, with a big but loose body and smooth, easy throwing mechanics.  Fernandez sits regularly in the 93-95 mph range with his fastball and compliments that with a low 80’s slider that has excellent depth and sharpness at times and a deceptive change up.  His defining moment as a prospect came at the WWBA World Championships last October while pitching for FTB Mizuno in a playoff game against the Dallas Patriots.  With literally hundreds of scouts lining the field, Fernandez threw a complete game shutout, pitching in the 94-97 mph range with a present plus slider and pinpoint control.  His combination of raw stuff and command had most scouts openly wondering if Fernandez could have pitched in the Major Leagues that night, with the answer almost universally being to the positive.  Fernandez has enjoyed a strong and uneventful spring on the mound, leaving scouts only to worry about minor issues such as his real age (speculated to be a year older than his listed DOB) and his tendency to gain weight (up to 260 lbs at times in the past).  The most likely draft scenario is for Fernandez to go in the second half of the first round, perhaps around where his “new” hometown Tampa Bay Rays begin their plethora of picks in the first two rounds.

Projected Draft Position: Second half of the First Round.



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