The Marlins Death Fog has come for Julian Fernández. Yesterday, the home run sculpture-less Miami Marlins claimed Fernández on waivers ahead of tonight’s deadline to set rosters before th Rule 5 Draft, thus ending his tenure with the San Francisco Giants. Across all levels of play, his final line with the Giants:
0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA
Fernández, who the Giants received in last year’s Rule 5 draft, never got a chance to pitch for the Giants as he was diagnosed with a UCL tear in Spring Training and underwent Tommy John. Even fans that aren’t invested in prospects had likely heard Fernández’s name because of one simple thing: Dude throws hard.
The young right-hander routinely broke 100 MPH with his fastball, and that’s a hell of a start to a reliever. It’s at least enough to wonder what could happen if he could just improve his changeup or his slider.
Even with the devastating fastball, Fernández didn’t get the strikeouts you would expect. In 58 innings at class-A, Fernández struck out 57 and only walked 18, which is perfectly cromulent but they’re not the gaudy strikeout numbers you would expect for a guy throwing 100+ to class-A hitters.
Fernández’s fastball may be 70-80 grade, but prospect hounds are a bit nonplussed by everything else. When Chris Mitchell at FanGraphs projected 2017’s Rule 5 draft picks, he included this tweet from Eric Longenhagen:
Julian Fernandez is a howitzer. 98-101, not much else going on.— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) December 14, 2017
“Not much else going on.” Oof.
The loss doesn’t hurt too bad and it was certainly intentional. President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi has said that the thought of losing someone on the 40-man roster should cause heartburn. The Giants losing Fernández made me think, “Aw, dang,” which is a long way from “Good Riddance,” but it’s also a long way from heartburn.
Relievers who can hit triple digits are enticing, but they’re exceedingly common now. In 2018, Statcast tracked 36 different pitchers who threw at least one pitch above 100 MPH. One of them was someone named Tanner Rainey. Another was former Giant pitching prospect Zack Wheeler!
Still, it’s going to stink watching Fernández on the mound as the 2022 Wild Card-winning Marlins eliminate the Giants in the NLDS on their way to their third World Series title.
[This article has been edited to correct the nature of the transaction — the Rule 5 Draft is next month.]