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Marlins' first round pick, Tampa Alonso RHP Jose Fernandez, was once jailed in Cuba before finally fleeing with his family

For years, Jose Fernandez and his family dreamed about leaving Cuba behind.

Jose FernandezA little more than three years after finally escaping on a tiny boat, another dream came true for Fernandez on Monday night. The 18-year old pitcher from Tampa Alonso High School was drafted by the Florida Marlins with the 14th overall pick in the first round of Major League Baseball's Amateur Draft.

Fernandez, a 6-3, 215-pound right-hander who grew up in Santa Clara, Cuba, has a two-seam fastball, a four-seam fastball that ranges between 92 and 97 miles per hour, a breaking ball that has a nice bite to it and a changeup that is a work in progress. But none of it may be as good as his story.

According to the Tampa Tribune, Fernandez tried to flee Cuba four times with his mother and sister. He was jailed once for those attempts. During one attempt to flee, his family was 10 miles off the coast of Miami before being intercepted by the Coast Guard and sent back to Cuba.

Another time, his mother, Maritza, fell into the Atlantic Ocean after a wave slammed into their boat. Not knowing who was in the water, Fernandez dove in to save a person he knew needed help.

"When you come in that boat, it's hard," Fernandez told the Tampa Tribune. "You have to be a man. You have to make some big decisions that a lot of kids 14, 15, 16 years old don't make. So I made that decision when I saw somebody fall from the boat. I didn't even know it was my mom."

According to documents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Jose, Maritza and his sister, Yadenis, left Cuba for the final time on the night of March 20, 2008. Following several days at sea, they arrived in a wooded area near Cancun, Mexico, in a boat holding eight passengers. Days later, they bused to the U.S. border in Hidalgo, Texas, through Vera Cruz and Reynosa, Mexico, reaching their destination April 5.

What he's already been through is just part of the reason the Marlins believe they found themselves a tough, talented and up-and-coming pitcher.

"One of the things you look for in a high school kid -- going through the minor leagues there's a lot of adversity. There's a lot of things they have to go through that a normal kid hasn't had any experience with. He's faced a lot worse things than anything he'll face going through our system," said Jim Fleming, Vice President of Player Development and Scouting for the Marlins.

"You've got to feel the way he dealt with that, he's going to deal with the day to day struggles of baseball very well. He pitches with no fear and very aggressive and you see a confident air to him we really like."

Fernandez is also a winner. He led Alonso to the Class 6A state championship twice, including last month. As a senior, he was 13-1 with a 1.35 ERA and 134 strikeouts. In three years at Alonso, Fernandez was 30-3 with 314 strikeouts.

"We liked everything about him," Fleming said. "We saw the film of him. He's a big, strong kid with pitches in place. His fastball runs anywhere from 92 to 97. We have what we think is a plus breaking ball. He throws strikes, he has a really good feel to pitch, which a lot of times with a high school kid with that kind of stuff that's still developing. You can see he's going to have good command. If you know anything about his background, the adversity he's been through, he has good work ethic. He looks to be good. It was just kind of a guy that excited from the first day."

The Marlins haven't had a great deal of success lately with first round picks. Since 2001, only outfielder Jeremy Hermida (2002) and right-hander Chris Volstad (2005) have become regulars on the big league roster.

Fernandez is the second pitcher the Marlins have taken with their first pick in the last three years and the fifth straight high school player they've used their first pick on.

Comments

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Lou Vales

Well, at least we know he's tough. Maybe some people who live in Miami will actually go to the ballpark based upon this story. Of course if you believe that I have an acre of land to sell you off the coast of Havana.

Lou Vales

I suggest these MORONS keep taking pitchers until the draft ends!!!

Matt

This could be a nice long losing streak. Bats are asleep and pitching has hit the skids. Injuries impact every team in one way or another during the course of a season. The good teams find some way to step up their play while the wannabes wilt under the summer heat. These fish looking like they're ready to be fried.

Lou Vales

By the way, EVERYBODY's favorite pitcher, Sean West, just gave up 6 runs to Nashville in the 1st!!!!! and allowed 10 runs in 5!!!! Yes Sir!!! We are BLANKED and you know who is responsible for this farm system being ranked 29th out of 30 and DON'T let Beinfest feed you any bull on why he thinks that is not accurate. Although he is probably right, they should be ranked 30th.

And don't be surprised to see this young team fold as they realize there will be NO help arising from the Barnyard(Farm System) and NO help acquired from outside.

Lou Vales

Man!! i have nothing but disgust for those 3 clowns.the only reason i'm still coming down there is to meet Samson's Boyfriend.if Jeffy had a fan thrown out for heckling him, I'm going to have a contingent of people go with me to film me being thrown out for commenting in a NON-profane way about the Three Stooges and what they have wrought.

AND you know that Edwin will be fired for this eventually.i wonder if he ever wants to FIRE his son-in law/david, you married well. you not only outkicked your coverage the ball went out of bounds inside the 1.

Lou Vales

IF there is any doubt about what I'm saying, go to Minor League Baseball.com and pull up the rosters of the New Orleans Zephyrs(means light wind,like flatulence) and Jacksonville Suns andcheck out the ages of the players.after you check out the ages look at the pitchers' ratios of strikeouts to innings.Hell,just look at most of the stats and realize that Beinfest may be the most over rated executive since the President of Lehman Brothers.

It appears we may be facing the beginning of a Long dark winter.Pitching is the life blood of your system and you can tell we need a transplant. Our Number 1 starter must be DL'ed every year, Number 2 starter will soon walk,Number 3 starter is getting too good to hang around, volstad and vasquez=No Comment, sanabia already with problems, West to soon join Marceaux and others back in Cajun Country.hand MAY be good but then it appears he better be.

Samson's Boyfriend

Welll... a real yawner tonite...might have had 3000 people there for the first pitch ...Other than LoMo and Infante the only things the fans yelled about was booing Nyjer when he came up and cheering when Buck knocked him off first base for the out ....Lou..it's funny you mentioned Edwin being the fall guy if this continues because that exact topic was brought up for the first time,tonite...Brewers have impressive line-up..if they can get the pitching needed they will give LaRussa and Dusty all they can handle...

Erick

The Marlins have consistently been a respectable team despite having a small payroll all these years.

You're really going to blame Beinfest for that?

Name me one GM in the big leagues with a small payroll who can consistently compete. The answer is no one has done it, really. Even the great Billy Beane has lost his magic.

Also, the farm system just recently graduated four position players (Stanton, Morrison, Coghlan, Gaby). It's not that there is no future; it's that the future is already in the big leagues.

I agree, though; hopefully they load up on pitching in this draft and it pans out.

My brother has seen this kid pitch more than once (he's a high school coach), and he told me that he's pretty impressive. Reached 98 on his fastball a couple of times. Supposedly, he's pretty cocky on the mound.

Samson's Boyfriend

Hope the kid they drafted breaks their lousy record with first round pitchers...maybe he'll follow another cuban Fernandez that was great at Miami Pace High,the U, and the 97 World Series Marlins, Alex Fernandez...what a competitor that guy was...wanted to pitch in the play-offs in 97 with a torn rotator cuff,his arm hanging by a thread...At least this kids name isn't Sanchez...too confusing

Lou Vales

Samson, You KNOW it will happen. They will blow Edwin out of the water faster than a Samson proposal. You sure you want to go to that game with me? A couple of years ago I met a guy on a plane and he got me great seats in those seats right behind the plate. Have you ever noticed the clown that seats in like the 4th row and always wears something white and goes to EVERY single game. Well, anyway he is the guy I meet at the game who provides the tickets. I end up feeling like the biggest hypocrite in the entire world when right before the game this Phi Beta Kappa introduces me to Arm Wrecking Trader Jack who he is treating like royalty. Anyhow, a guy I revile becaues of the huge pitch counts he ran up on Willis and others, i end up shaking his hand and keeping my mouth shut.Now i understand that was the courteous thing to do but i never felt dirtier in my entire life.

If I see Tommy on the road after a game at a hotel, I'm going to offer to send him over a drink and then walk over and stick out my hand and say this is Lou Vales. He'll probably call over Uncle Wes.

Lou Vales

take a look at MLB.com and check out that picture of players in the dugout. they are beginning to know they have been and will continue to be stabbed in the back with no help forthcoming. JJ and the All-Star both go down, bench consists of poor Scott Cousins, Oscar martinez, Wes Helms and Brett Hayes, and YET you know Edwin will be stabbed in the back just like a party in the Forum on March 15th.

UGLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lou Vales

samson, Figured out system.it's what i promised to do with Matt and then forgot about it. i will give you a name and number of a restaurant in Greenville where I eat 3-4 times a week.I'll ask you to call in a 1 hour time frame and ask to speak to me.just to make sure it's you, I'll nave the hostess ask you a question that only you can know the answer to based upon what you said in one of your recent posts. I will take the call and give you one of the most wanted cell phone numbers in Greenville.I'll have the hostess ask you a question to make sure that Juan Yanes is not making the call.

Samson's Boyfriend

Said hi to Tommy tonite in-passing on the 100 level...he had a group of people he was showing around...I'll be more than happy to take in a ballgame with you...I already have my own ticket, however we can meet at the stadium and go from there...you say when..it's up to you, I have a flexible schedule...

Samson's Boyfriend

Sounds good Lou...

Lou Vales

i would take my daughter to afternoon games when she wwas still very young.Of course we went down and sat in the first 2 rows. ONCE!!!! about the 3rd inning someone came by and said those were their seats.my daughter was upset because she thought they were our seats. When we got to the 18th row and our seats she started crying and said "these are horrible." true Story.Ryan Dempster tossed her a ball before his first start as a Marlin.

Lou Vales

Good Night Renyal Pinto, taylor tankersley, Logan Kensing, The Henry Guy acquired fom Mets who hurt his arm, Jeremy Hermida, Jeff Allison, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Mike Rabelo,"Eddie' de la Cruz Whereever You All Are.

Sadly,I know where a future Hall of Famer, probable Triple Crown Winner and MVP is.Nice trade!!

Lou Vales

Samson,Bonefish Grill (864)297-5142. is between 4:30 and 5:30tomorrow okay?? Just ask for me.I'm doing it at that time before it gets busy.

Samson's Boyfriend

Lou...will call you tomorrow at that number(864}297-5142...at that time..talk to you then..

Beinfart

Can I go Too???

pepin

No sabemos si te llegue este post man pero te deseamos toda la suerte del mundo por dos cosas por todo lo que has pasado para lograr tu sueño y segundo por ser cubano suerte y palante y parriba siempre. :lol:

Michael

Lou do you notice that you are talking to yourself, moron.

Stan M

Samson, What are the chances that you could get tickets for whomever of us would want to go to 1st game in new stadium. Where we sit isn't critical. My son and I would definitely drive down for that and a dinner someplace for all of us. Even if tickets are scalped. What are your thoughts on the matter? Maybe Clark can help us and join in, etc.

Clark

Howdy gang,
Just spoke with someone on Marlins about tickets for next season (to answer StanM's question). It'll be the usual process. Partial season-ticket packages will go sale toward the end of this year. Individual game tix will start being sold sometime around Fanfest in mid-February.
Clark

Lou Vales

Dear Mikey, I have some of my most intelligent conversations that way.I see this as a public diary. I still know many people who are Marlins fans who read this blog every few days and who call me and discuss things. I'm venting for muself and for them and whoever comes by. I'm comfortably retired with an inordinate amount of time to do whatever the Hell I desire.I understnd it's difficult for you to comprehend that concept,however, I bear you no ill will and hope whenever you reach the age of 85 and you are STILL working that there will always be Walmart 0r facsimile companies to provide you a greeter position.

You have a good day.Out some money in that IRA--Now that does not stand for Irish Republican Army.

Lou Vales

Las palabrasyo No comprendo son "palalante a parriba." ?Que es eso? Gracias.

Samson's Boyfriend

Is it too much to ask, for history to repeat itself..in 97 Marlins brought up Livan Hernandez,in 03 Marlins brought up Dontrelle Willis...tonite they call up Brad Hand and need a big effort from him to get of the schnied...let's hope so Marlins fans...

Samson's Boyfriend

Lou..It's E-mail Tuesday..what do you have lined up for Rich and Tommy?..I'll be at the game, rooting on young Mr. Hand so you'll have to fill me in...hope you come up with some Doozies...

Stan M

I am about to buy 3 or 4 tickets to Friday night's Marlin game at Atlanta. Tickets are in section 108 row 2. You can look right into dugout and on deck circle is about 10 feet away. The date is July 29th. Cost at Vivid Seats.com is about $125 each when tax and their fee is included. If anyone is interested in getting that 4th seat please get back to me by tomorrow.

Samson's Boyfriend

Hi Stan the Man...Clark answered your question perfectly about tickets at new stadium...I'll be at Fan Fest there in Feb and will keep you abrest off all happenings..

Fed Up With Losing

He sucks. If he didn't suck, he wouldn't have been drafted by this piece of crap "organization".

Samson's Boyfriend

Who Sucks???

Stan M

What happened to the more intelligent posts. Clark, don't let this blog have a losing streak, too.

Samson's Boyfriend

Stan the Man..checked out The N.O.Zephyrs site and they have Dominguez listed on roster at SS with Gotay and Cervanak at 3B..wonder if it's a typo or what's up with that??? Also I can tell by the numbers why they did not call up Villanueva or Koehler..not that great..In Jax Skipworth is hitting a blistering.177 in 41 games while Mustache Mattison is stroking .329 thru 55 games..Kinda old at 26 in Sept.

Flav C

I still think the Fish can turn things around and have a good season, maybe be a strong contender for the Wild Card. But what upsets me most about the Fish is its uncanny ability to make opposite players that are playing bad (or hitting bad) all of a sudden look terrific. Also, opposite players who are not "power hitters" are able to hit Extra-Base hits and HRs against the Fish. In the series against the Brewers we not only had to worry about Fielder and Braun. There was Morgan hitting his 1st and only HR of the season (5th in his entire carrier)in the 2X3 loss on Saturday. There was Josh Wilson hitting his 2nd of the season on the 5X6 loss on Sunday(a go-ahead HR). that was only his 5th HR in a 5 year career. In the 5X7 loss to the Cardinals, there was Descalso hitting his 1st and only HR of the season, which was a 3-run HR. He came to the series batting .220 but managed to hit .300 against the Fish, scoring 4 of his total 17 RBIs in the season. In the 4X5 loss against the Dodgers, Barajas who came to the series batting .180, still managed to hit a 3-Run HR. Besides Barajas, the Dodgers had a trio of players who, combined for the season are hitting .230, but managed to hit .410 against the Fish, producing 6 RBIs and 5 runs. Those players are Loney, Navarro, and Furcal - who hit his 1st and only HR of the season against us so far. I could go on and on with Koylie Hill (Cubs), LaRoche and Hairston Jr. (Nats), etc... I dont mind when hte Fish loses close games to teams when Ethier, Fielder, Kemp, Tulowitzki,Howard come up with big hits. They are great hitters and chances are they will make any team pay for their mistakes. But it is tough to lose games (close games) when players hitting really bad "resuscitate" at the Fish expense. Did i hear Dan Uggla is batting .172 coming to this series against us? Oh boy...here we go!

Samson's Boyfriend

Flav C great post..Marlins always have had the problem of 'playing down'to their competions level..They make some average players look like HOFers at times...Have a knawing feeling the Marlins might be slumpbusters for Uggs..In April in Atlanta,the Marlins took 2 out of 3 with Uggs going 2for12 with a homer..I hope that knawing feeling I have about Uggs,comes out of his funk,feeling good at Sun Life Stadium,comfortable surroundings back in S.FL. is wrong,and Uggs doesnt come back to bite us in the AZZZ this series...

nothingxs

I find Lou Vales both hysterical and entertaining as hell, because I know if I go to any mainstream Marlins blog on the Internet that's related to a newspaper, there's going to be a bunch of Lou Vales comments there.

I agree, though: we desperately need arms, and we have nothing good in the farm system right now. Hopefully some of these draft picks actually pan out, because our bench is thin, and the only way we're going to actually keep winning is if we can get something out of our pitchers. It's telling that I have a lot more faith in Volstad than I do in our "big" off-season acquisition, Vazquez (who is terrible).

Stan M

Wow Flav,
Excellent analysis and I agree with you completely. And Samson, that's very interesting about Dominguez. If he's that great a 3rd baseman, maybe he can play SS as well. Also, maybe they know something about Hanley's injury that we don't. Didn't Ripkin come up as a 3rd baseman and Weaver moved him over. Lastly, maybe the front office is as fed up with Hanley as most of us are and this move is part of a long range trading plan. If Mustache Pete can hit that well in AA, he should be able to hit as well or better than Cousins. However, sending Cousins down after the Posey affair would almost be an admission of something and they probably won't do it. This funk the team is in doesn't seem to indicate any lack of effort or anything like that, but I sure don't like it. Two days ago I mentioned that Marlins were (I think) only club in majors with 3 players with an OPS of over .900. They are surely shooting that all to heck. I think I see life in Coghlan, and Infante seems to have come around. The only hitter that I see with little room for improvement is Buck. Unfortunately, I think .220 to .230 is his level. I turned game off when Fielder hit the 3 run homer. It was either that or throw the flipper threw the TV screen shortly. Really like Flav's post. Are you new to here? If so, stay around.

Samson's Boyfriend

Stan the Man..Don't see Cousins going anywhere at this point..wait till Baker is ready,besides, Marlins have the 'Condor' Bryan Petersen hitting .339 thru 45 games and he's been up and down like a yo-yo, he's got a locker in the clubhouse #16,and he's still a Zephyr...Agreed ,what we've seen with Buck is what we're gonna get..One thing about going to Marlins games thru a losing streak like this..at least you guys watching on T.V get to channel surf..I always stay to the last out, regardless of the score and sometimes,it's tough to watch...

Flav C

Stan, yes, I'm new here and I am staying around. You guys make cheering for the Fish extremely "un-boring"! And I agree with you in regards to Buck. Historically, he had 1 good season only (last season) and I think it had more to do with their batting coach or batting practices they had in Toronto, since the team as a whole was 1st in the league in HRs, 1st in SLG, 4th in OPS, 2nd in 2B and 9th in Runs and RBIs. Definitely a hitting structure that was built to hit for power, very different from what the Marlins has. Hey, whatever they drink in Toronto, works fine!

Lou Vales

It'salmost btime for a Tangueray 10 Martini, extra dry, straight up with 3 olives. Looking forward to talking to Samson.

I'm hoping Hand can provide a happy ending tonight/ If not, it will be a fraustratedgroup of Fish.

I'm glad i was a huge Detroit Tiger fan fom 56 through 92 and I continued tolike them but marlins became my favorite team due to ability to overcome the worst ownershipin baseball over a 19 year period.Now,however, the Tigers have provided a nice fallback position.By the way,in the last year and a 1/3 Miguel cabrera has hit 10 homers in the 9th inning that have tied ball games.That is an incredible stat and Miguel right now is the best hitter in the game.You must realize he is not surrounded by Berkman and Holliday in the lineup. they give himNOTHING to hit!! NOTHING!!

Samson's Boyfriend

Nice Lou..Hand...Happy Ending...let me massage that thought...

Flav C

Lou, please. Stop mentioning the Cabrera trade. It is depressing. This was one of the worse moves i've ever seen in Baseball. I've seen bad ones in soccer (my other favorite sport) but the Cabrera trade takes the cake.

Stan M

Well, we lost, But if there is such a thing, it was a "good" loss. No one blew the game, a new pitcher was terrific, and the bullpen was again excellent. It's not like these other losses of late. Only bad thing is Stanton. He's taking strikes and swinging at balls. Shades of Hermida; that's what finally sent him packing.

Samson's Boyfriend

Stan the Man..Hermida couldn't hit HR's by accident...Stanton does,will and in 1-2yrs you won't believe this guy...

Marlins

The Marlins haven't had a great deal of success lately with first round picks Since 2001, i'm about to get my tickets from Ticketsinventory.com only outfielder Jeremy Hermida (2002) and right-hander Chris Volstad (2005) have become regulars on the big league roster.Agreed!

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