1. Jose Fernandez, RHP
Drafted: 2011 1st round, 14th overall from Braulio Alonso HS (FL)
Age: 20 Height: 6'3'' Weight: 220 lbs.
Miami Marlins top prospect Jose Fernandez is one of the ten best prospects in all of baseball. He has definitely come a long way since being held in a Cuban prison for attempting to flee the country. Aside from his potent arsenal, Fernandez has great make-up and is an excellent student of the game. Fernandez, who has yet to play above high Class-A, has about a 20 percent chance to reach Miami by the end of 2013. He has the potential to be a number one starter down the road, something no more than three other pitchers in the minors can boast.
Jose Fernandez has a dangerous repertoire. His fastball, which might be a 70 current on the 20-80 scale, can reach 98 miles per hour at times. He also throws a curveball, which has the potential to be a slightly above-average major league pitch. Fernandez throws a slider occasionally, which looks and acts very similar to his curve. If there is one part of Fernandez's game that he can improve, it would be developing a more consistent changeup. Nonetheless, his changeup is still probably a 50 pitch, meaning it could be major league average today. For a pitcher with such a huge frame to being throwing these devastating pitches, while maintaining his control, has to be a nightmare for opposing hitters.
One of the most impressive things about Jose Fernandez is how he has been able to quell his doubters. Coming out of high school, some teams were worried about Fernandez's weight and whether or not he would be a different pitcher as he put on pounds. So far, he has shown that those teams were foolish to use that as a reason to pass on him in the draft. His weight still comes up occasionally, but it should not be an issue for him down the line.
Another concern scouts had regarding Fernandez was that he would need to move to the bullpen if he could not be the innings-eater teams want him to be. After watching Fernandez dominate his first full season in the minors as a starter and prove he can throw over 130 innings pretty easily, I think it is time we can officially say Fernandez is not going to be a closer unless something goes terribly wrong. In fact, late in the season, Fernandez actually pitched best in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings of games.
After a 2012 season in which Fernandez was unstoppable at Jupiter and Greensboro, he should start 2013 at Double-A Jacksonville. Combining his 79 innings at Greensboro and 55 innings at Greensboro, Fernandez posted 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings and an ERA of 1.75 while only allowing two homers in 2012. The Marlins have not had a pitcher put up numbers in the minors like that in a very long time. Even though it may seem premature given his age and inexperience, it's time for Marlins fans to get excited about Jose Fernandez.