There probably has not been as much focus on Cuban baseball since the Havana team in the International League had to move to New Jersey shortly after Fidel Castro become Prime Minister in 1959. Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez (ranked 28th in Value Add) dominated a second straight contender Friday to join Yasiel Puig and All-Star Home Run champion Yoenis Céspedes in the spotlight.
Fernandez made it 27 strikeouts and one walk issued in two games. He kept the Pirates one and a half games behind the Cardinals in his last start, and Friday knocked the Indians a half game out of the final wild card spot.
Fernandez may have the biggest potential fan base with Miami’s Cuban population. In Single A last year he was 14-1 with a 1.74 ERA, and he easily made the jump this year to pitch like an ace. It was a boring day in the outfield, as the Indians managed a single and flyout in the first inning, but only managed to get five balls to the outfield in Fernandez’s last seven innings on the mound before he took the ninth inning off with a 10-0 lead.
The Marlins, who are last in the majors in virtually every offensive category, put together three straight RBI hits in the first inning to make it 3-0, more than enough for Fernandez.
Puig is stealing hits and taking extra bases with unbelievable speed, and is powerful enough to gun runners out from right field and slug .599 so far this season. Opposing players were already coming out early to watch Céspedes blast homers during batting practice before he dominated the home run contest at the All-Star game. He was 10th in MVP voting last season, and would have been a sure Rookie of the Year if he had not started his career the same year as Mike Trout.
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