Big on potential but not so much on actual results, should we still be excited about the future of Arjenis Fernandez?
Position: RHP Highest Level: Low-A
Bats: R Throws: R Height: 6'4" Weight: 195
Age: 20 Born: 7/29/1993
2013 Rank: #19
2013 Season Stats
Orem: 77.1 IP, 4-3, 4.89 ERA, 97 H, 16 BB, 10 HR, 39 SO, 4.76 FIP, .332 BABIP, 46.4 GB%
Low-A: 6.2 IP, 0-1, 10.80 ERA, 12 H, 5 BB, 4 HR, 3 SO, 12.35 FIP, .320 BABIP, 31.0 GB%
Fastball = B+
Fernandez took a big step forward in terms of physical maturity this past year. As a 16-year old, his fastball sat in the high 80’s. When the Giants signed him as a 17-year old, he was touching 90. Their unfavorable report on his medical records led to him not being signed until he was 18 by the Angels, when his fastball was sitting 90-91. But Fernandez was still 6’4 and maybe 190 lbs. soaking wet at the time. This year in Orem he looked to have added about 10-20 pounds more on his frame and his fastball was easily touching 93-94 with considerable movement. As his frame fills out even more, he may add a tick or two on his fastball and sit in the mid-90’s, but for not he only touches the mid-90’s a couple times per inning. His two-seamer has considerable tail in on RHB and his four-seamer is pretty straight.
Offspeed Pitches = B
Fernandez throws an absolutely killer slider that sits in the mid-to-high 80’s and can control it. This pitch itself can grade out as an “A”. However, I haven’t seen him throw an actual changeup thus far in Rookie Ball. This essentially means that right now, Fernandez is a two-pitch pitcher, which rarely works out for starters. It’s been semi-effective for Ervin Santana and that’s who Fernandez most resembles so perhaps he may remain in the rotation without a changeup.
Control = A
Fernandez throws a ton of strikes, almost to a fault. He pounds the zone and relies on the superiority of his pitches to survive. The problem with this is that as he progresses, hitters just become better and better, so he’ll need to learn to make them chase on occasion. But a 2.2 BB/9 at age 19 is quite impressive.
Command = D
This is the department where Fernandez struggles. He lacks command of his pitches. He has a good idea where the strike zone is but he’s had the unfortunate habit of leaving the ball up and out over the plate far too much. This explains why he has so few strikeouts despite possessing such a dynamic fastball-slider combination.
Mechanics = B
I like Fernandez’s loose arm and his rock and fire motion. He throws from low three-quarters to high-three quarters and has a bit of a jerk that off-sets the timing of some batters. Still, there are some kinks to work out. He has a habit of rushing through the delivery in his lower half which forces his arm to drag behind and sometimes delivery the ball in a cross-body manner that isn’t conducive toward success for him. He also needs to find a more consistent arm slot. It seems hitters have begun to key on his pitches according to where he releases the ball at.
Performance = D
Fernandez really didn’t have the good year I was hoping to see him have. Many of the same things that plagued him as an 18-year old went unresolved as a 19-year old. He may end up repeating a third year in Rookie Ball as a 20-year old if he does not make the proper adjustments.
Projection = B
Fernandez has the right body, frame and stuff to become a front of the rotation starter. But there are a lot of little kinks he needs to work out and unless he begins to develop more of a third pitch, he may be force into bullpen duty. But as a starter, if that third pitch comes and is anything above average, you can pencil his projection in as an “A” grade.
Grade as a Prospect = C
Every organization has a young raw Dominican pitching prospect that is yet to capitalize on his “plus” tools. Despite being a thin organization, it’s actually refreshing to see the Angels still have a couple of these guys.
Estimated MLB Arrival Date = 2018
Fernandez is still young and has time on his side. But he’s still raw and unless something clicks for him, his time with the Angels may have to wait until his mid-20’s rather than early 20’s as we had originally hoped.
2013 in Review*
The first thing you'll notice about Fernandez is that he spent a little bit of time in Burlington. The Angels had him start the season in Low-A, but he got rocked in two appearances at which point he was kicked back to extended spring training for two months until the Pioneer League season started. Obviously, that is not such a good thing.
Equally as frustrating is that Fernandez's overall numbers in Orem were largely similar to his numbers last season. For the second straight year, he was pretty hittable and generated a very disappointing number of strikeouts. The only area where his number were notably different was his walk rate which he cut from 8.8% to 4.7% year-to-year. Given that control was already one of his more enticing tools, it is encouraging to see it translate on the mound. So, while there wasn't the monumental leap forward we were hoping to see from him this season, he at least is still taking baby steps.
Despite his middling numbers, it is time for Fernandez to step up and head to full season ball. That means a return to Burlington, this time for good. Since Fernandez is only 20, there won't be an expectation that he suddenly start dominating, but given the progress he made with his offspeed pitches and control, the minimum expectation is that he not get bombed again. There is still plenty of projection left in Fernandez, but if there are going to be any hopes of him becoming a frontline starter remaining after 2014, he is going to have to prove it on the field.
*As we do every year, the scouting reports and grades are provided by Scotty Allen while Garrett Wilson provides the 2013 in Review and Looking Ahead sections.