Marlins send top prospect Fernandez to Minors camp

Marlins send top prospect Fernandez to Minors camp

JUPITER, Fla. -- For now, top Marlins prospect Jose Fernandez will remain just that -- a prospect.

The right-hander, ranked No. 1 in the organization and No. 7 overall in baseball according to MLB.com's 2013 Prospect Watch, was reassigned to Minor League camp on Wednesday afternoon after just one official Grapefruit League appearance.

"I'm pretty confident, and I think I can pitch in the big leagues today," Fernandez said. "That's my personal opinion. Maybe I'm not ready, but that's how I feel. I feel, at the same time, I've got to learn and I've got to do a lot of stuff that's going to help me be more successful in the big leagues, but I think I will. That's why I'm going down to put my work in."

The first-round pick (No. 14 overall in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft) has started every Minor League game he's pitched in, and wouldn't have the opportunity to be stretched out while in big league camp in Jupiter.

"I know I've got to get ready for my season," Fernandez said. "I know, every fifth day, I've got to pitch. So I want to get my routine going and everything, and I know they made the right call."

Fernandez was in good spirits in the clubhouse after receiving the news Wednesday afternoon, saying it was something he's been expecting for days now.

"They were trying to make it easy on me and I was like, 'You don't have to. I know it. It's not a big deal,'" Fernandez said.

The Cuba native pitched at two levels (Class A Greensboro and Class A Jupiter) and in the All-Star Futures Game last year, impressing along the way. He led the Minors in WHIP (0.93), finished second in ERA (1.75) and fourth (.191) in batting average against. He had just the one Grapefruit League appearance -- two scoreless innings of relief against the Nationals -- but pitched in an intrasquad game, and logged 1 1/3 innings against the Venezuelan World Baseball Classic team in an exhibition.

"He was impressive," manager Mike Redmond said. "He was exactly how everybody described him. Everybody said that I'd be impressed, and I was impressed with everything -- the way he handled himself, the way he pitched, his command, his presence. His mound presence is great. You can tell he's a competitor. He wants it. And that's what you want. Those are the type of guys you want in the organization. His day will come."

Fernandez is expected to open the season with Double-A Jacksonville.

"I'm 20 years old," Fernandez said. "I just can't be upset. I pitched six innings, didn't give up a run. I knew, I was going to get sent down, I was ready for it. ... They told me, 'Hopefully this is the last time.'"

Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak.‬ This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.