José Fernandez (fernajo01)

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Jose Mayobanex Fernandez Rojas

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Biographical Information[edit]

Slugger Jose Fernandez hit 127 homers in the minor leagues, 45 in South Korea and 159 in six years in Japan through 2008 for 331 career pro homers. He failed to homer in 49 AB in the majors.

1993-1997: Up and down in the lower minors[edit]

Fernandez was signed by the Montréal Expos as an undrafted free agent at age 18. He debuted in 1993 with the DSL Expos, hitting .319/?/.478 with 10 HR and 49 RBI in 251 AB. He possibly tied for the Dominican Summer League in home runs.

In 1994, Jose batted .233/.296/.366 for the GCL Expos, showing some pop (8 2B, 5 HR in 45 G), but fielded just .908 at third base. In 1995, the 20-year-old hit a respectable .274/~.307/.393 with the Vermont Expos. He did steal 29 bases in 33 tries and hit 7 triples.

In his first full season, Fernandez batted .273/~.350/.442 for the Delmarva Shorebirds with 12 HR, 72 runs and 70 RBI. He was caught 13 times in 36 attempts to steal. He led South Atlantic League third basemen with 102 putouts.

Jose continued his climb through the system in 1997. He batted .309/~.370/.463 with the West Palm Beach Expos (22 for 36 in steals) and .229/~.309/.406 in 29 games for the Harrisburg Senators. He fielded .887 with Harrisburg at third base.

1998-2001: AA, AAA and the majors[edit]

At age 23, the Dominican infielder had a fine year for Harrisburg. He produced at a .295/~.358/.512 clip, hit 17 homers and stole 16 bases in 22 tries. Fielding .916 at third, he still made the Eastern League All-Star team there. With the AAA Ottawa Lynx, he only fielded .833 in 11 games at third while hitting .267/~.323/.367 in 21 games at the plate.

In 1999, Fernandez led International League third basemen with 31 errors (fielding .911 there) and hit a solid .271/~.317/.434 with 73 runs, 30 doubles, 14 homers, 14 SB in 21 tries and 136 strikeouts. When Michael Barrett was hurt for a week, Jose got a chance at third for the 1999 Expos but hit .208/.240/.292 in 8 games and fielded .889. He got sent back down when Barrett returned and did not make it back to the majors for a couple years.

Montréal let Fernandez go as a free agent and he signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit .286/.357/.403 for their 2000 Indianapolis Indians farm team and fielded .955 at third base. He smacked 37 doubles and only struck out 93 times, showing significant strides in walks as well. He led Expos minor leaguers in doubles that year.

Jose was signed by the Anaheim Angels for 2001 and he continued to improve. He fielded .953 at third and hit .338/.421/.624 for the Salt Lake Stingers. He scored 99 runs and drove in 114 runs in 122 games, hit 37 doubles and 30 home runs. He was named Anaheim's Minor League Player of the Year and led the system in average, runs, hits (153), total bases (282), home runs and RBI. He led the Pacific Coast League in average, assists by a third baseman (234), RBI and OBP and made the PCL All-Star team at third. He went 0 for 1 in the AAA All-Star Game. Anaheim gave him 27 plate appearances but he hit just .080/.148/.120 in that tiny sample size for the 2001 Angels. Never having gotten an extended look in the majors, his big league career was over despite his improving play and stardom in the minors.

Anaheim waived Fernandez and he was picked up by the Chicago Cubs but did not last long in their system and was let go.

2002: Korea[edit]

Jose signed with the SK Wyverns for 2002 and had a fine year, hitting .281 with 45 HR and 107 RBBI. He was two homers behind league leader Seung-Yeop Lee and hit the most home runs of any foreign player in the Korea Baseball Organization that year.

2003-2013: Japan[edit]

Fernandez then moved on to the Chiba Lotte Marines. He hit .303/.376/.571 with 32 HR and 100 RBI for the team in 2003. He was 6th in the Pacific League in homers, tied for fourth in strikeouts (106, even with Alex Cabrera), tied Michihiro Ogasawara for 7th in RBI and was 8th in slugging. Ogasawara beat him out for the Best Nine at third. Even though he was one of Chiba Lotte's top hitters, they let him go.

Jose was then signed by the Seibu Lions. He batted .285/.357/.526 for the 2004 Lions with 33 HR and 94 RBI, batting third in front of Cabrera most of the year. He tied Munenori Kawasaki for 6th in the PL in runs (87), was 9th in hits (146), 5th in RBI, sixth in homers and total bases (270), tied with Pedro Valdes for third in sacrifice flies (6), was second to Julio Zuleta with 117 Ks and was second to Kawasaki in AB (513). He hit .310/.375/.483 with 6 RBI to help Seibu win the 2004 Japan Series.

Fernandez batted .293/.366/.465 in a return engagement with Seibu. He hit 26 homers and drove in 84. He was 7th in the league in RBI, 9th in homers, tied Kenji Johjima for 9th with 229 total bases, tied Cliff Brumbaugh for 8th with 46 walks, was 10th with 91 strikeouts and placed 8th in both slugging and OBP. He again usually hit third but spent a fair bit of time at DH and 1B as well as at third in 2005.

Seibu and Fernandez had a contract dispute and Jose signed on instead with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, in desperate need of offensive help. He hit .302/.370/.541 as the star and cleanup hitter for the second-year franchise, with 33 doubles, 28 HR and 88 RBI. He tied Hichori Morimoto for third in the PL in hits (148), tied Kazuhiro Wada for 7th in runs (72), was second in total bases (265), 4th in homers (four behind leader Ogasawara), 5th in RBI, tied for fifth in sacrifice flies (6), fifth in walks (53), 6th in OBP and third in slugging behind only Ogasawara and Cabrera. He did ground into a PL-leading 18 double plays. He became the first Rakuten player ever to be honored on the Best Nine, making it at third base.

In the 2007 Caribbean Series, Jose hit .211/.385/.526 for the champion Águilas Cibaeñas. Fernandez missed the early part of the 2007 season as his wife had just given birth and Jose returned to the USA. Oddly, Rakuten's other gaijin infielder, Rick Short, also had to go to America at the time as he too had just had a child. Fernandez hit .270/.347/.457 with 22 home runs. He was 7th in the PL in homers, tied with Greg LaRocca for 6th in RBI (79), 8th in walks (49) and was 9th in slugging.

In the 2008 campaign, he hit .301/.368/.475 with 40 doubles, 18 homers, 80 runs and 99 RBI to help Rakuten win 46% of their games, a vasy improvement over their past efforts. Fernandez ranked among the PL leaders in average (tied with Atsunori Inaba for 8th), doubles (1st, 3 ahead of Toshiaki Imae), hits (163, tied for 3rd with Short), runs (6th), RBI (4th), walks (53, tied with Takeya Nakamura for 9th) and OBP (tied with G.G. Sato for 9th). He was .002 behind Short for 10th in the league in slugging.

Fernandez moved to the Orix Buffaloes for the 2009 season, joining a slew of gaijin who were past their primes but had productive careers in Japan with LaRocca, Cabrera and Tuffy Rhodes as teammates.

His final professional games came in 2013, with the Acereros de Monclova in the Mexican League and the Orix Buffaloes in Japan.

Main Sources: 1994-2003 Baseball Almanacs, by Gary Garland

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