It was just reported a few minutes ago that the Marlins have purchased the contract of top pitching prospect Jose Fernandez. In corresponding moves, and what makes this decision a little more palatable, the Marlins placed both Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez on the 15 day DL with right shoulder injuries.
Here is a tweet from MLB.com's Joe Frisaro:
new rotation is Ricky. Slowey, LeBlanc, Ricky, Fernandez— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) March 31, 2013
Fernandez is only 20 years old, but has made the Marlins rotation as their 5th starter after a dominating first full season in the minors. Fernandez made a total of 25 starts last season, 14 coming in Low A and 11 in High A, going 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.925 WHIP. He struck out 158 and walked just 35 batters in 134 innings last season.
John Sickels ranked Fernandez as his 8th overall prospect in the Minor League Ball Top 150 Prospects for 2013, and assigned him with a 2014 arrival date to the majors. Here is what he wrote about Fernandez in his Marlins Top 20 Prospect Rankings for 2013:
1) Jose Fernandez, RHP, Grade A: Borderline A-. Seems like a conclusive case to me. First class stuff, good command for a young power pitcher, strong sabermetric factors, outstanding performance in A-ball at age 19/20. He's better than expected and he was expected to be pretty damn good to begin with.
Our own Jason Hunt wrote this piece on Fernandez last July after the Futures game.
ESPN's Keith Law wrote this about Fernandez in his Top 100 Prospect Rankings for 2013:
The Marlins should push him so that he's challenged in 2013 and forced to make adjustments, including developing that third pitch, to get him closer to that No. 1 starter upside.
Well, I guess the Marlins did push him, eh?
I think Fernandez could have some value in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues this season due to his strikeout potential. He doesn't walk many batters, which is a plus. He will certainly have his ups and downs as most young starting pitchers do, but he will be pitching in spacious Marlins Park, a very pitcher-friendly ball park, so the stadium's dimensions should limit some of his mistake pitches this season.
Per Juan Rodriguez from the Miami Sun Sentinel, the team will limits the number of innings Fernandez pitches this season:
#Marlins will limit Jose Fernandez to 150-170 innings. Beinfest expects him to log them all in majors.— Juan C. Rodriguez (@JCRMarlinsbeat) March 31, 2013
Fantasy owners only hope that this very aggressive move does not stunt his growth as a pitching prospect. What makes this decision even more surprising is the fact that Fernandez threw only 2 innings this spring for the big league club, giving up one hit and striking out two.