After being selected to participate in the South Atlantic League first half all-star game, Marlins pitching prospects Adam Conley and Jose Fernandez have been promoted to high Class A Jupiter. Both pitchers have dominated the South Atlantic League over the past three months, earning themselves a ticket to join the struggling Hammerheads rotation.
Jose Fernandez, a Cuban-born right-hander, was selected 14th overall by the Marlins last year. Prior to the season, Fernandez was ranked the third best prospect in the Miami farm system by Baseball America and fourth best by this blog. A strong case can be made that he is now the top prospect in the entire system. At just 19 years old, Fernandez has been nearly unhittable for the Greensboro Grasshoppers. He holds an astounding 1.59 ERA in 79 innings pitched, with 99 strikeouts and only 18 walks. Fernandez fits the mold of a traditional right-handed power pitcher, throwing a mid-90s fastball, but also mixing in a quality curveball that gives right-handed batters fits.
The exceptional nature of Jose Fernandez's debut cannot be understated. Next to Orioles super-prospect Dylan Bundy, no other 2011 draftee has performed as well as Fernandez. He also has the talent to be a true ace pitcher, with potentially four plus pitches. Very few pitching prospects have Fernandez's ceiling, while fewer still have the statistical record to indicate that ceiling is attainable. He is likely the Marlins' most exciting pitching prospect since Josh Beckett. By comparison, Josh Johnson pitched in the Sally League as a 19-year-old, but had a 3.61 ERA in 82 innings pitched, with just 59 strikeouts and 29 walks.
The Marlins took Adam Conley out of Washington State with their second round selection last year, making the 2011 draft one of the more successful in recent team history. The 22-year-old lefty profiles as a back of the rotation starter or a potential setup man. He uses a low-angle arm slot to deceive batters, sitting in the low-90s with his fastball and working in a sinker and a changeup. Conley's advanced approach has allowed him to post a 2.78 ERA in 74 innings pitched, with 84 strikeouts and 24 walks. His numbers are impressive, but his age should taper expectations.
Conley and Fernandez are expected to make their first hi-A starts today in a doubleheader against the Lakeland Flying Tigers.