Fernandez impresses, Yelich lives up to billing in KC

Fernandez impresses, Yelich lives up to billing in KC

Fernandez impresses, Yelich lives up to billing in KC
KANSAS CITY -- Jose Fernandez was not among the 100 players included among MLB.com's Top Prospects in January. It seems safe to assume he will be among the new additions when the list is updated.

After being selected by the Marlins with the 14th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Fernandez made just two Minor League appearances last year. But the 19-year-old right-hander has drawn attention while producing impressive results through the first three months of his first full professional season.

Many members of the baseball world were introduced to Fernandez when he displayed his high-octane fastball while tossing a scoreless second inning for the World Team in Sunday's Sirius XM Futures Game at Kauffman Stadium. The hard-throwing hurler threw four fastballs, each of which was clocked at 97 mph or higher.

"I was nervous, but after that first pitch, I was just like, 'I'm going to do what I do,'" Fernandez said. "I like this kind of stuff, I love to compete. I feel happy that I went out there, finished one inning and got two strikeouts."

Fernandez and outfielder Christian Yelich served as the Marlins' representatives in this year's Futures Game, which Team USA won, 17-5.

Yelich, who was ranked as MLB.com's 35th-best prospect in January, entered to play right field for the U.S. Team in the fifth inning. The 20-year-old outfielder singled and drew a walk in Team USA's nine-run sixth inning. In his only other plate appearance, he opened the bottom of the eighth with a weak fly ball that was caught in shallow left field.

"Growing up, I would watch this game on TV and think that would be really cool to do that one day," Yelich said. "To actually go out there and be a part of it and have USA on your jersey was pretty cool."

Along with his fastball, Fernandez displayed an impressive slider and curveball while recording two strikeouts. The one hit he surrendered was tallied by Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton.

"He's got really good stuff," said Braves prospect Christian Bethancourt, who served as the World's catcher for the first five innings. "He's got a good slider and curveball. He just needs his fastball sometimes. He's pretty good."

Fernandez absolutely dominated Southern League opponents while going 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts for Class A Greensboro this year. He recorded 99 strikeouts and issued 18 walks in 79 innings.

Since being promoted to Class A advanced Jupiter, Fernandez has encountered some challenges. He has allowed seven runs and nine hits in the 10 innings in two starts in the Florida State League.

"I'm just going to keep working hard to get to the big leagues and help my team to win," Fernandez said. "That's my No. 1 goal."

Fernandez now has a chance to get a daily look at Yelich, who has batted .315 with 10 home runs and a .954 OPS in 58 games with Jupiter.

Considered the top prospect in the Marlins' organization, Yelich has persevered through an injury-plagued season. He began the season on the disabled list because he was hit on the right elbow by a teammate's bat while standing in the on-deck circle.

At the end of May, Yelich suffered a concussion when he was kneed in the head while sliding into second base. After missing three weeks, he returned and immediately started producing while not experiencing any post-concussion problems.

"It's been a weird year with all of the injuries, but I understand having to take precaution after the concussion," Yelich said. "I've felt great and really have not had any problems."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.