Miami Marlins Ace Jose Fernandez Dies in Boating Accident

Jose Fernandez
The Associated Press

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident early Sunday morning.

The league cancelled the team’s game today against the Atlanta Braves. Fernandez, initially scheduled to start on Sunday, got pushed back to Monday to allow Adam Conley to return from the disabled list to pitch.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández,” the Marlins explained in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”

The 24-year-old and two others died when their 32-foot boat hit a jetty, presumably at a high rate of speed, early this morning. Pictures show a damaged, overturned vessel partly submerged at the edge of a configuration of rocks jetting out into the ocean from the shore. The Coast Guard came upon the accident scene at 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

The righty emigrated from Cuba eight-years ago as a teen. The Florida Marlins selected him at 18 years of age in 2011 with the 14th pick of the draft. He shared a black-and-white beach picture of his pregnant girlfriend last week. A picture posted on Instagram yesterday shows Fernandez with three men, one with a Corona in hand, at what looks like an upscale bar.

Numerous other photographs show him out on the ocean in a boat and holding up large fish for the camera. He escaped Cuba on a boat, spent much leisure time on the water, and ultimately lost his life participating in one of his passions. “Great lunch today,” he captioned one picture of him holding two fish. “Ran into this Cuban Raft!” he notes of a ramshackle bark. “Brings back crazy memories.”

Earlier this year, he traveled to Fort Bragg with the Marlins to play the Braves in the historic game for veterans and their families. “I was both honored and humbled today when I was able to spend time with the true heroes of our time,” Fernandez reflected on the event. “These men and women risk their lives to protect our country and our freedom. As a Cuban who became an American I salute Ft. Bragg and all who made this day possible.”

Fernandez boasted a 16-8 record with a 2.86 ERA this season. This season likely ends with Fernandez leading the National League in strikeouts per nine innings pitched with 12.5. In four years in the majors, the staff ace registered 38 wins to 17 losses and a 2.58 ERA.

Fernandez won the Rookie of the Year award in 2013 and made the All-Star team that season and earlier this year. Tommy John surgery kept him out of action for most of 2014 and 2015. But he had really returned to form in his fourth and final season.