In an offseason Q&A with MiLB.com, Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez said his only goal for Spring Training was to emerge a member of the big league club.
A noble goal, to be sure, one expected of any professional competitor. But also probably a little ambitious, coming from a 20-year-old with 138 1/3 innings of pro experience, none of them above the Class A Advanced level.
Well, he's done it.
The Marlins announced Sunday that their top prospect would slot into the starting rotation after injuries felled Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi. Fernandez told MLB.com that he was understandably excited.
"It is crazy. I'm happy to be here. It's what I've worked for my whole life," he said. "That's what I came to the United States for, to play in the big leagues. I'm going to try to enjoy every bit of it."
Ranked seventh overall on MLB.com's list of Top 100 prospects, the Cuba native will be handled cautiously by Miami, according to president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest. He said Fernandez will have a limit of 150-170 innings this season.
Selected 14th overall in the 2011 Draft, Fernandez tossed two innings in Grapefruit League competition, allowing one hit and striking out two. Over 134 innings last season between Class A Greensboro and Class A Advanced Jupiter, he was 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 158 strikeouts against 35 walks.
"This has been tugging at us a little bit," Beinfest confessed. "We watched him in big league camp. We watched him last year. We watched him go down to the Minor Leagues. He's been just outstanding."
Another Top 100 prospect, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. (No. 32), cracked the Red Sox's Opening Day roster. Boston named the 22-year-old the starter in left field after he tore through the Grapefruit League to the tune of a .419/.507/.613 line in 28 games.
Bradley, the organization's second-ranked prospect, hit a combined .315/.430/.482 in 128 games last season between Class A Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland. He told MLB.com he was still processing the news.
"I think it really hasn't hit me yet. Until my name is called, and then I'm pretty sure I'll probably go numb a little bit," he said. "It's great, it's an honor and I can't wait."
Red Sox manager John Farrell said a combination of Bradley's defensive ability and his performance in Spring Training gave the club the confidence to put him in the starting lineup for Monday's game at Yankee Stadium.
"He improves our outfield defense. He showed a very consistent approach at the plate," Farrell explained. "A lot of people want to maybe target the batting average in Spring Training, but in our evaluation it goes much deeper than that. When you see the consistency of at-bats he put up, we feel like the strength in his mental approach will handle some of the distractions that will ultimately be thrown his way."