Just like the Marlins themselves, another MLB institution has rebranded for the 2019 season: the “disabled list” is now known as the injured list. And the Fish wasted no time putting it to use. Right-hander Julian Fernández (elbow) was placed on the 60-day IL Wednesday night, according to the team’s website (first reported by Andersen Pickard of our sister site MLB Daily Dish).
This come as no surprise. Miami’s 40-man roster was full, requiring a corresponding move in order to squeeze in Sergio Romo on a one-year, $2.5 million deal. They completed Romo’s physical and made that free-agent addition official on Friday after reaching an agreement earlier in the week.
A Rule 5 Draft pick of the Giants last offseason, Fernández did not appear in a meaningful game for them. He struggled during the 2018 Cactus League—13.50 ERA, 2.05 WHIP in 7.1 IP—before being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
#Giants Rule 5'er RHR Julian Fernandez. Lighting up the gun as usual; 97-100 on an explosive late-riding FB; throws a low-90s cutter that has its moments; power low-80s CB w/ slurvy shape. Backdoors LHH on last pitch and freezes for K-looking .@giantsprospects pic.twitter.com/KDTxGMlnmv— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) March 9, 2018
Tommy John surgery in April wiped out what would’ve been his age-22 season.
Interestingly, because Fernández didn’t stick on their active 25-man roster, his Rule 5 status carried over into this year. The Marlins claimed him in November with the intention of bringing him along slowly via the injured list. Frustrating as his rehab might be, the silver lining for the hard-throwing Dominican is he’ll earn a major league salary despite no regular season experience above the Low-A level.
Prior to the busted elbow, Fernández spent five seasons (2013-2017) in the Rockies farm system working exclusively out of the bullpen. He owns a career 3.65 earned run average with 133 strikeouts in 148 innings (128 games pitched).
Fernández’s fastball velocity averaged 98.4 miles per hour in 2017 (h/t Joe Frisaro, MLB.com). However, due to his specialized role and shaky control, he never ranked among Colorado’s Top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America.