Every year, a class of young and talented players emerge in MLB, giving their respective clubs newly-found hope in what the future will hold. While many men might shoot through the minor leagues as a prospect, only the cream of the crop who have designs on making it to the top actually will. Perhaps no one made a bigger impact on their club in 2013 than Miami Marlins rookie, Jose Fernandez.
While St. Louis Cardinals starter, Michael Wacha, certainly performed stupendously in his rookie campaign as well, he did not produce as much — nor dazzle as much — as Fernandez did in the regular season. The Cuban rookie went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA in 28 starts. He posted a spectacular 9.7 k/9 and a most impressive 0.98 WHIP on his way to NL All-Star and Rookie of the Year honors.
So, how did he do it? Fernandez’s fastball — while not overwhelming — averages at 94 mph with good command, and he uses a devastating curveball as his out pitch. When scouted in the minors, some thought the curve would develop into more of a slider in the big leagues, but he showed that he was capable to slow it down despite rookie nerves.
Currently, Fernandez is ranked as the fifth-ranked starting pitcher, with a 43.5 average draft position across many fantasy baseball sites. Anyone who can win 12 games on the 2013 Marlins gets an A grade in my book, and with some improvements to the club, it is safe to expect 15 from the youngster in 2014.
While expecting another 2.19 ERA would be foolish, his performance indicates he should be able to maintain it between 2.50 and 2.65, considering he would have to take a significant leap backwards for it to descend around a half of a run. Hitters tend to get used to a pitcher’s tendencies as they see them more often, so the statistic we could see fade somewhat is his K/9 as they learn the rotation on his curve.
You should draft Fernandez as a top-five starter even if there are some players with more experience available.