This one goes to 14. An extended struggle exposes Jake Odorizzi, and Jose Fernandez shows Matt Joyce his whole arsenal.
The two longest plate appearances of 2013 (to date) took place two innings apart in Monday’s Rays-Marlins game at Tropicana Field. They both involved right-handed rookie pitchers who were facing batters for the first time in the big leagues. And like last week, I’m going to go over them both.
Harry examines the stuff used by four first-year starters, including Jose Fernandez.
Four pitchers that made their first MLB starts—or debuted—in 2013 have stayed in their teams’ rotations to make at least one more. These pitchers have combined for 10 starts, covering 55 1/3 innings while yielding 52 strikeouts and just 11 walks—and providing 866 tracked pitches along the way. Impressive.
The aforementioned pitchers had each entered spring training with a chance to win a spot in the rotation for their respective reams, and each player had already been exposed to the bright lights of the majors, but the most impressive rookie on display last weekend was a 20-year-old with zero experience above high-A who shocked the baseball world with his massive leap to the majors. Jose Fernandez made his major-league debut for the Marlins on Sunday, pitching in Miami less than two years after he had been selected in the first round of the 2011 draft out of a Florida high school. Fernandez stepped onto the field as the second-youngest player in a major-league uniform (that Bryce Harper guy is younger).
Bret examines whether starting pitchers are worth using in fantasy as soon as they reach the bigs.
Sometimes things that we take for granted as gospel are worth investigating. The latest example of this came in the wake of Jose Fernandez’s incredible debut for the Marlins this past Sunday. It’s not often that we see something that we can say has never been done before, but the 2011 draftee accomplished a truly unique feat. Jose Fernandez was the first-ever 20-year-old to strike out at least eight batters and walk one or fewer in his major-league debut. Yes, the first in major-league history.
So, of course, just over two hours before Fernandez threw his first major-league pitch, I took to Twitter and offered the right-hander’s owners this “advice.”
There are 80-grade runners and then there’s Billy Hamilton. Almost to a person, Hamilton was dubbed the fastest player the BP Prospect Team and industry scouts had seen in their careers. In his past two minor-leagues seasons, Hamilton has stolen 258 bases across three levels. In 2012 he broke a long-standing minor-league record and ended the season with 155 steals in just 132 games. As if the stolen base totals weren’t enough evidence of Hamilton’s blinding speed, scouts routinely report home-to-first times in the 3.40-3.45 second range; blowing the 20-80 scale out of the water. Hamilton is an elite runner in every respect. He gets up to top speed in just a few quick steps, sustains his speed well while running the bases and has shown good closing speed in the outfield. Hamilton’s speed is a game-changing tool that will carry him to the big leagues, and the second he steps on a big league field he will be the fastest player in the history of the game.
It's a rare player indeed who could make the jump Jose Fernandez made. Jason asks front office executives which ones could handle it next year.
While it might seem silly to speculate about possible 2014 assignments, the unexpected promotion of 20-year-old Jose Fernandez to the major leagues took my mind down a curious path. It’s not every day that a prospect ascends to the highest level without first making a stop in the upper minors, especially when the prospect is only two years removed from high school. It has to start with the opportunity, as unexpected injuries and limited options put the Marlins in a personnel quandary, a situation so distressed that a pitcher with only 11 starts at the High-A level was a reasonable choice to secure a spot in the rotation. What I find more interesting is not the decision itself, but the individual characteristics of the pitcher who made such a decision plausible in the first place.
The jump from the High-A level to the Double-A level is considered the second-largest talent jump in the minors, second only to the jump from Triple-A to the majors, and Fernandez is being asked to make both jumps at the same time. This is a monumental challenge that few prospects in the game could manage, both on a physical level (talent) and an emotional level (makeup). Fernandez has both, with room to spare, which isn’t to suggest his refinement level is up to major-league standards or that the decision to promote him so aggressively should be shielded from criticism; rather, Fernandez possesses the necessary characteristics to make such a leap justifiable, at least from a scouting perspective, and that puts him in elite company in that regard.
Jose Fernandez makes the Marlins roster; will skip the high-minors in 2013
The situation: On Sunday morning, we all woke to the news that 20-year-old Jose Fernandez would be starting the season at the major-league level. With only 11 Advanced A-ball starts under his belt, most assumed Fernandez would be slated for a full dose of Double-A in 2013, with a potential call-up late in the season if things progressed as planned. The opportunity for aggressive promotion arose because of injuries to pitchers Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez, as they will start the season on the shelf and the Marlins needed an arm capable of stepping up into the major-league rotation.
Background: After several failed attempts, Fernandez was finally able to escape Cuba in 2008 and set up residency in the United States in 2009. After blowing up on the showcase circuit, Fernandez was selected 14th overall in the 2011 draft by the Marlins and signed for a $2M bonus. Despite only two brief starts at the short-season level, Fernandez began his first full season in the Sally League, where the 19-year-old absolutely shoved it, making 14 starts and striking out 99 in only 79 innings, while allowing only 51 hits. Over the summer, he was promoted to the Florida State league, where he continued his dominance, logging 11 more starts and maintaining his strong peripherals against older competition. During the all-star weekend, Fernandez was selected to pitch in the Futures Game, where the big righty stood out as one of the top arms on either roster. Coming into the 2013 season, Fernandez was ranked number one in the Marlins farm system, and number six overall in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus.