Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez were named the Miami Marlins Minor League Players of the Year. Yelich took the Marlins award for minor league player of the year, while Fernandez was named minor league pitcher of the year.
This should come as no surprise as Yelich and Fernandez are almost always numbers 1 and 2 on any top prospect list about the Miami Marlins. Yelich was taken in the first round of the draft in 2010, while Fernandez was taken a year later in the first round as well.
Yelich, who has never had a batting average lower than .312 in his entire career produced another stellar year, and he is looking more and more like the real deal. The likely future center fielder for the Marlins, Yelich turned in a batting average of .330 this year, which was just barely lower than Logan Morrison’s Jupiter record of .332 set in 2008.
Yelich can do it all, as he followed up last year’s 32 stolen bases with another 20 this year. And don’t forget, he only played in 106 games this year due to injury, which means all of his totals including his 12 homers and 48 RBIs could be higher. Yelich is not a power hitter, he is a line-drive, gap-to-gap hitter with the power to hit a home run when he connects, which can explain his nice total of 29 doubles.
He plays solid defense in center field and is a great all-around hitter, as his .923 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) suggests. He was rated “Most Exciting Player” in the Florida State League in 2012 and the best hitter for average in the Marlins organization. Yelich seems to be putting it all together quite nicely.
Fernandez dazzled in his first full minor league season. There are not enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe this kid. Not only one of the best pitchers in the organization, but also in the league or all of Minor League Baseball Fernandez obliterated the opposition this year, going 14-1 between low-A Greensboro and high-A Jupiter.
He recorded a 1.59 ERA in Greensboro and a 1.96 ERA in Jupiter, good for a 1.75 ERA between the two leagues. He had 158 total strikeouts in 134 total innings. That’s a ratio of 10.6 strikeouts per 9 innings. In other words, that’s a better ratio than both of last year’s Cy Young Award winners Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander have this year (but yes, class A is far different than the MLB; but its still a good sign).
Fernandez also issued 35 free passes to first base this year with a WHIP under 1.00 and he gave up far less hits than innings pitched. He was rated as having the best fastball in the entire Marlins organization.
It should come as no surprise that these two won the awards for being the best players in the Marlins organization this year. Both were selected to the Baseball America All-Star Team this year. Both put up mind-boggling stats at such young ages and appear well on their way to the major leagues. Maybe even a big year next year could make a case for a 2013 big league September callup, maybe earlier. However, even though they are doing great, I wouldn’t want to see them up until probably 2014 at the earliest unless they completely annihilate double A.
You can’t forget that Yelich and Fernandez will still only be 21 and 20 at opening day next season. After the countless disappointments of previous drafts such as Volstad, Sinkbeil, and Dominguez it sure is encouraging to see these 2 bring their games to another level.