Should the Rays select Jose Fernandez, who continues to pop up in mock drafts as a potential fit, he would become the fourth high school pitcher drafted under R.J. Harrison in the first three rounds (the other three: Nick Fuller, Nick Barnese, and Kyle Lobstein) and ostensibly the first chosen in the first round.
Fernandez is a bit of a local product, as he attended Alonso High School after defecting from Cuba and has a commitment to the University of South Florida. The most noticeable attribute of Fernandez’s is a thick lower body—in full display here—as he is listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds. Conditioning is necessary for all players, but with Fernandez, you feel like it could be an even more slippery slope. Teams aren’t selling jeans and porcine pitchers have succeeded before, so Fernandez isn’t going to be docked too many points for his corpulent lower half. Not with a right arm like the one he has.
Depending on the scouting report you believe, Fernandez sits either at 93-to-95 miles per hour or 90-to-95 mph. Discrepancy also exists about Fernandez’s secondary offerings. Some have him throwing a curve while others do not—Baseball America’s report on him suggests scouts don’t know whether he means to throw a curve or if it’s just his slider in disguise. Two things that are for sure: his slider profiles as a put away pitch and the early returns on his changeup are encouraging.
Confidence is important in pitching, and Fernandez gets praise for his demeanor too. Jonathan Mayo adds that Fernandez has an “outstanding feel for pitching” and the consensus is that he is one of the 15-to-20 best prospects in this draft. Even if the Rays don’t pop Fernandez with one of their picks, you can always experience him pitching from the Tropicana Field mound in his MLB.com draft profile video.