Jose Fernandez finds himself at #3 on this list because of his incredible success in his career that was cut short. Honestly, I would have put him at #1 if the other two players weren’t pretty much positional superstars. Anyways, back to the son of South Florida.
Niño defected from Cuba to the United States in 2007. He and his mother would then move to Tampa Bay shortly after arriving in the country. Jose led his high school to two state championships in his time there. After his senior year of High School, Fernandez would become eligible for the 2011 MLB Draft.
Minor League Career
The Florida Marlins picked Jose with the 14th overall pick. After getting drafted, he only spent two seasons in the minors.In Jupiter, he pitched to a 7-1 record with a 1.96 ERA with 59 strikeouts. In Greensboro, he pitched to a 7-0 record with a 1.59 ERA and 99 strikeouts.
He finished the 2012 season with a 14–1 win-loss record, a 1.75 ERA, and 158 strikeouts in 134 innings pitched. He would make the Opening Day roster with the Major League club for the 2013 season.
Rookie of the Year
Jose made his MLB debut on April 7th, 2013 against the New York Mets and he did not disappoint. Jose went five innings with eight strikeouts while only allowing one earned run. Jose’s 2013 rookie campaign did not go unnoticed. He was selected to his first career All-Star game in 2013.
His 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA, and his 187 strikeouts earned him the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year award beating out fellow Cuban born player Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers at the time. Fernandez became the first Cuban born player to win the award.
Tommy John Surgery
His 2014 season was going smoothly. Through his 8 games started he had a 4-2 record with a 2.44 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched. Great numbers from the 21 year old Fernandez. Unfortunately, Jose would require Tommy John surgery after tearing his UCL.
His 2015 season was great for a recovering pitcher from Tommy John. He finished his season with a 6-1 record, a 2.92 ERA, and 79 strikeouts in 64.2 innings pitched.
His 2016 season was phenomenal. Fernandez would go on to have a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA with 253 strikeouts. Fernandez’s holds the record for most consecutive wins at home with 17. That streak would be snapped early 2016. Jose had gone 17-0 with a 1.40 ERA in 27 career starts at home. Fernandez would be selected to his second career All-Star game in 2016. Sadly he was not able to finish his first full season back since his Tommy John surgery. Jose passed away in a boating accident on September 25th, 2016. That day still sits fresh in my memory as it does in fellow Marlins’ fans and Jose fans.
Jose would be awarded the 2016 NL Comeback Player Award from TSN.
Rest in Peace Niño.