A week after being named the Carolina League Pitcher of the Week, Fernandez had a bit of a rough start versus a weak Frederick Keys’ lineup on May 2nd. Despite a mediocre stat line (4.1 IP, 6H, 5ER, 3BB, 0 K), Fernandez showed the ingredients for a back-end of the rotation starter ceiling.
Fernandez is small in stature but has some muscle and strength to his frame. He has a compact delivery that features a solid tempo, consistent leg drive and deception in his overall delivery that allows his average stuff to jump on hitters. Due to his size, his delivery takes moderate effort to repeat. His longer arm action, below-average present command, and stiffness throughout his core at foot strike, bring some concerns on whether Fernandez would be able to handle a starter’s workload.
That being said, he has the athleticism to repeat the delivery, and with increased repetition and innings, his command could get to average. Throughout his start, Fernandez held his 90-to-93 mph sinking fastball velocity, even touched 94 in the early innings. His ability to attack right-handed hitters on the hands, and run the pitch back over to the inside corner to left-handed hitters ultimately makes the pitch potentially grade as above average.
Fernandez featured two secondary offerings that both sat in the low 80s and came from the same arm slot as his fastball. His changeup came out exactly like his fastball and had late fading action, consistently fooling both right-handed and left-handed hitters. His slider was a short, tight breaking pitch that he could work in and out of the zone to right-handed hitters, but he struggled to effectively throw it in the zone to lefties.
Overall, Fernandez showed flashes of an above-average fastball, average changeup and fringe-average slider with the ability to repeat his mechanics. If he continues to develop his command of all his pitches, there is a chance he could reach his back-end starter ceiling. – C.J. Wittmann