"I didn't want to come, but I had to," said Fernandez, Miami's top selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. "That wasn't my plan. I wanted to come when it was my time to come [to the Majors] ... I'm happy to be here, it's just a little thing I had."
The reason Fernandez stepped foot in Marlins Park earlier than he expected? He and outfielder Christian Yelich, teammates at Class-A Jupiter and the top two prospects in the Marlins' organization according to MLB.com, were honored in a pregame ceremony at the stadium.
The team announced late Friday that Fernandez, a right-handed pitcher, was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year, while Yelich was named the club's Minor League Player of the Year for the second straight season.
Yelich was selected 23rd overall by the Marlins in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Since joining the Marlins' system, the 20-year-old outfielder has impressed.
This season he hit .300 with 29 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs and 48 RBIs in 106 games for Class-A Jupiter. He led the Florida State League in slugging percentage (.519), ranked second in average and on-base percentage (.404) and third in runs scored (76), while earning FSL Mid-Season and Annual All-Star honors.
"I kind of struggled at the beginning of the year," Yelich said. "I started off hot and hit a little bit of a rough patch. I kind of just learned to deal with that stuff, because obviously it's going to happen. ... I think that's a good learning experience, and something that really helped me this year."
Fernandez, the 14th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, was dominant in 25 starts between Low-A Greensboro and Jupiter, going a combined 14-1 with a 1.75 ERA. The righty went 7-0 in 14 starts with Greensboro before he was promoted to Jupiter on June 25. With the Hammerheads he went 7-1 with a 1.96 ERA in 11 starts, earning wins in six of his final seven outings.
"I learned a lot," Fernandez said. "I learned how to pitch a little bit, I learned how to mix, how to set up hitters a little bit better. I've still got a long way to go, a long way to learn, and hopefully I keep learning.
"Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'm here, or tomorrow I'm in Double-A. What I know for sure is I'm going to keep working hard and keep trying to get better."