Jose Miguel Fernandez Leaves Cuba To Pursue MLB Deal
December 2, 2015 by Ben Badler
Jose Miguel Fernandez, a second baseman who ranked as the No. 3 player
still in Cuba in April, has left the country to pursue a contract with a
major league team, Baseball America has learned.
As a 27-year-old with seven seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie
Nacional, Fernandez will be exempt from the international bonus pools,
and the interest from major league teams should be high. Fernandez is a
major league-ready infielder with a short, quick swing from the left
side, excellent bat control and stellar plate discipline. During the
2013-14 season playing for Matanzas in Serie Nacional, Fernandez hit
.326/.482/.456 with 65 walks and 10 strikeouts in 314 plate appearances,
ranking second in the league in OBP.
The problem is that it’s been more than a year since Fernandez last
played in Cuba. Fernandez played the first few weeks of the 2014-15
season and was off to a .315/.415/.426 start with only one strikeout in
65 plate appearances before he was suspended for attempting to leave the
country in October 2014. He missed the rest of the season and hasn’t
played at all this year in Cuba or in any international tournaments
because of the suspension.
With his bat-to-ball skills and ability to manage the strike zone,
Fernandez is a potential high OBP threat in the major leagues, although
his power is below-average. Speed isn’t part of Fernandez’s game, and
his thickening lower half (listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds) has hampered
his range at second base, where he’s at best an adequate defender.
Fernandez also spent time at third base during the 2013-14 season,
though his arm strength is better suited at second.
Fernandez had been the second baseman on the Cuban national team,
including an impressive performance at the 2013 World Baseball Classic,
where he hit .524/.545/.667 in 21 at-bats with no strikeouts. Scouts
have been able to see him several times since then, including the 2013
World Port Tournament in the Netherlands, the 2013 friendship series
against in the United States against the U.S. college national team, the
2014 Caribbean Series in Venezuela and a small tournament in Colombia
last year in August.
Fernandez will have to establish residence in another country and then
be declared a free agent to be eligible to sign with a team. There’s
never a certain timetable for that to happen, though based on the recent
history of other Cuban players, it’s unlikely he would be ready to sign
before Opening Day.
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