BLUF: Thick, powerfully built right-hander with number three projection and a slim chance to be a number two.
The Player: Jose Fernandez (RHP, Miami Marlins) – Fernandez was the 14th overall pick in 2011, signing late in the year and making just a few appearances in the Gulf Coast League and one in the New York-Penn League. Assigned to Greensboro to start the 2012 season, Fernandez has dominated in seven starts so far. He has a 4-0 record and 1.67 ERA, backed up by allowing just 27 hits and ten walks in 43 innings with 52 strikeouts.
Basis of Report: Industry Contacts
Body (6-3, 215): Huge, extremely physical teenager. Already physically mature. Thick lower half with strength and a high waist. Body invokes a young Livan Hernandez. Has some surprising athleticism for a man his size. Shows good coordination and overall physical development. Will have to watch his body as he gets older to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.
Delivery/Mechanics: Uses his lower half well, driving down the mound toward the plate. Extremely quick arm but there’s some effort in his upper half and he doesn’t always extend through his follow through. Will open up at times but that’s easily corrected with experience. Some scouts wonder just how durable he will be despite physicality. Effort could cause him to break down at some point.
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Wind-up): High – 96, Low – 90, Average – 93-94, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Velocity (Stretch): High – 96, Low 89, Average 93-94, Grade – 60/70
Fastball (FB) Movement: Good life when he stays in himself and doesn’t over throw. Can explode on the hitter with a little “hop” to it. Works down the mound well and has good angle to the plate, making his natural life even more difficult to square. Grade – 60/60
Overall Fastball: Really powerful, heavy pitch. Can break bats with ease and isn’t afraid to attack with the FB. Potential for plus-plus velocity with plus life gives him a potential dominating FB. Grade – 60/70
Curveball (CB): After showing both a SL and CB last year, scouts have noted a more defined CB-type pitch this year with sharp overhand break. It shows very tight spin and is a powerful upper-70s to low-80s hammer that can miss bats and has plus potential. Grade – 40/60
Change-up (CH): Shows modest feel. Hasn’t really had to throw much and still isn’t working on it consistently. Relying heavily on FB and CB to get through Low-A lineups. Will flash an average CH once in a while. Lacks any consistency and will tip with slower arm speed. Needs a lot of work and lack of consistency may always exist, leaving it below- to fringe-average. Grade – 30/40
Control: Already improved to a below- to fringe-average level from last year’s pro debut. Throws strikes more consistently but will still lose the zone when his pace gets too quick and his front side flies open. Can have stretches of pounding the lower half of the zone, but those are seldom right now. Has enough coordination and athleticism to throw strikes consistently and should have average control. Grade – 40/50
Command: Command is tough to project for him. Lacks ideal athleticism or simplicity of mechanics to have easy command projection. Effort in delivery also complicates projection. Chance for below-average command at peak. Will be more of a strike thrower than a command artist. Grade – 20/40
Summation: Could move quickly with power FB-CB combo that will mow through low-level lineups. Doesn’t have projection for a depth of arsenal or command and will rely on power profile and blowing hitters away more than sequence and artistry. Has effort in delivery but will stick as a starter and could still pile up innings. Needs to improve finer points of his game and mechanical consistency to really take off. Exceptional mound presence and aggressive approach to pitching. Won’t back down from anything and is an excellent competitor. Looks the part of a very good number three starter with a pure ceiling of a number two.
Relative Risk: High. Enough questions exist around his delivery at a young age to leave him with a high risk profile.
Future: There’s a case to be made that Fernandez won’t be challenged in the South Atlantic League this year, but rushing him to High-A may not be the answer either. Needs to throw his change-up more consistently and work on throwing quality strikes to truly be ready for the next level. Could still reach Miami by late 2014 if things go perfectly.