In what seems like a never-ending spawning point of amazingly gifted ball players, Cuba has produced yet another fantastic athlete in starting pitcher, Jose Fernandez.
The Miami Marlins signed the now 21-year-old right-handed hurler out of the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft. Despite only spending one full season in the minors, Fernandez completely dominated single-A and High A ball in 2012. With a 14-1 record in 25 starts and a 1.75 ERA, the Marlins deemed him ready to get his Major League debut.
On April 7, Fernandez made his debut for Miami and after a five-inning, one-run outing, there was no looking back. 27 starts later, Fernandez is a clear frontrunner for the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award. The 6-2 pitcher from Santa Clara, Cuba finished his rookie season with a 2.19 ERA, a 0.979 WHIP, an average of 9.7 strikeouts per nine innings and a 12-6 record in 172.2 innings pitched.
In all of MLB history, Fernandez is the only pitcher to have a rookie season with at least 100 innings pitched, an ERA under 2.50, a WHIP under 1.000 and more than 9 strikeouts per nine innings. The last pitcher to even come close to those numbers in his first year was Hideo Nomo, who happened to win Rookie of the Year in 1995 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With numbers like that, don’t be surprised if Fernandez brings home the ROY Award, even over the better-publicized Cuban phenom, Yasiel Puig. If Fernandez can keep up his performance in 2014, he could be the pitching centerpiece around which the Marlins build a solid organization. With Giancarlo Stanton being the offensive focus, Miami has two solid attractions to draw in both fans and future players.