The Miami Marlins have returned right-handed pitcher Julian Fernandez, who was selected in the Rule 5 Draft, to the Colorado Rockies, according to the Rockies’ official Twitter account. The move leaves 36 players on the Marlins’ 40-man roster.
Fernandez was originally selected by the Giants in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, but was unable to pitch in the following season after suffering an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. In the 2018-2019 offseason, he was claimed off waivers by the Marlins. After suffering a setback in his recovery from surgery, he was again unable to pitch for the entire year.
Since he hasn’t spent any time on a Major League roster in the two years since he was selected in 2017, he will be returned to the Colorado organization.
Fernandez’s career has certainly followed a curious, if unfortunate, path. He’s now accrued two years of Major League service time despite not having thrown a pitch in the big leagues. And with Fernandez returning to Colorado, the Rockies have stumbled into an interesting arm. At 6’6″, Fernandez is a physical specimen who attracted interest for his ability to touch triple digits with his fastball prior to surgery. He’s still just 23 years old, though he’s now lost two critical years of development and hasn’t thrown a pitch above Class-A ball.
In his most recent season, 2017, Fernandez threw 58 quality innings for the Rockies’ Class-A affiliate, striking out 57 batters and notching a 3.26 ERA. His high-octane fastball led many to believe that he had potential as a high-leverage reliever, though of course that potential had to be put on hold. Still, he’ll be an interesting case to monitor moving forward: when he’s at full health, will he retain his electric fastball velocity? Where will the Rockies assign him in his return to action? It’ll be fun to see if he can carve out a role with his new/old organization, which first signed him when he was 16.