A week after the Marlins shocked everyone by announcing his callup, 20-year-old Jose Fernandez allowed one run in five innings and struck out eight Mets in his major league debut Sunday.
Fernandez, regarded as one of the game’s top five pitching prospects, was expected to spend the bulk of the season in the minors. In fact, he made just one two-inning appearance for the Marlins this spring before being sent down. The team, though, had a change of heart when both Henderson Alvarez and Nathan Eovaldi came down with sore shoulder at the end of the spring.
Fernandez allowed three hits and walked one before leaving with a 3-1 lead today. He threw 80 pitches, 53 of them for strikes, and topped out at 97 mph on the gun. He became the 22nd pitcher since 2000 to strike out at least eight batters in his major league debut. Matt Harvey (11) and Collin McHugh (nine) of the Mets were the only two to do it last year.
The Marlins are planning on limiting Fernandez to 150-170 innings this season, so five- and six-inning starts will be the norm for him.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.