Miami Marlins boosters and baseball fans in general have to be upset about the loss of ace right-hander Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery. But while fans and fantasy owners can whine and complain, the Marlins front office has to figure out an actual solution. Stepping into Fernandez's shoes tonight is rookie right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.
DeSclafani hasn't received a lot of attention outside of Marlins circles, but he's actually a very interesting prospect. He was originally drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth round in 2011, from the University of Florida. He was an erratic reliever in college, posting an ERA over 7.00 in 2010 for example, but in pro ball he became a successful starter, posting a 3.37 ERA, going 11-3, with a 92/25 K/BB in 123 innings in the Midwest League in '12. He was traded to the Marlins in the huge Jose Reyes/Mark Buehrle/Josh Johnson deal.
He posted a 1.67 ERA with a 53/9 K/BB in 54 innings for High-A Jupiter last year, followed by a 3.36 ERA with a 62/14 K/BB in 75 innings after moving up to Double-A Jacksonville. He had a 4.19 ERA with a 38/10 K/BB in 43 innings for Jacksonville this year.
Listed at 6-2, 195, and born on April 18, 1990, DeSclafani was a fastball-oriented reliever in college but the Jays refined his secondary pitches and made him a starter; the Marlins continued with that policy. He’s made good strides with his slider and changeup, giving him three solid pitches, and his command is also an asset. Although he gets his heater up to 95-96 MPH, he’s not generally overpowering in terms of strikeouts and is more of a ground ball type.
He's being promoted to the majors from Double-A with no intervening Triple-A exposure, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts. DeSclafani doesn't have the upside of Andrew Heaney, Miami's top prospect, but he could be a solid inning-eater.