26. Alex Fernandez (8.1)
Alex Fernandez is a 6-foot-2, 200 lb. right-handed pitcher from Miami Beach, FL. Born on August 13th, 1969, he was chosen in the first round of the 1988 MLB Amateur Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, but did not sign. In 1989, Fernandez went 15-2 with a 2.01 ERA for the University of Miami Hurricanes, over 19 starts. He struck out 177 in just 147 2/3 innings. He was again a first round pick two years later for the Chicago White Sox, fourth overall.
Fernandez made very quick work of the White Sox minor league system, starting twice with their rookie-level Gulf Coast White Sox, twice with their High-A Sarasota White Sox, and four times for their Double-A Birmingham Barons. By August, 1990, just two months after the draft, he was in the majors to stay.
Fernandez pitched seven seasons for Chicago, going 79-63 with a 3.78 ERA over 199 appearances, including 197 starts. He posted a 1.29 WHIP and 951 K’s in 1344 innings overall. After the 1996 campaign, Fernandez signed with the Marlins through free agency.
Through the 1997 season, Fernandez started in 32 games, going 17-12 with a 3.59 ERA. He struck out 183 in 220 2/3 innings, with a 1.187 WHIP and only 2.8 walks per nine innings. The Marlins earned the National League wildcard with a 92-70 record, and of course, marched through the three rounds of the playoffs for their first World Series Championship. He went 1-1 with a 6.52 ERA. After a poor start in the NLCS, the Marlins had Fernandez take an MRI. According to Jason Reid at the Los Angeles Times:
"An MRI exam revealed that the right-hander had suffered a career-threatening tear in the rotator cuff of his pitching shoulder. Fernandez will undergo surgery soon, sitting out the rest of postseason play and possibly the next two seasons as he faces extensive rehabilitation."
Fernandez took the 1998 season off to rehabilitate, and in 1999 returned to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. He was 7-8 with a 3.38 ERA over 24 starts, 91 whiffs in 141 frames, and a 1.248 WHIP.
In 2000, Fernandez started eight more games for the Marlins, going 4-4 with a 4.13 ERA. Another shoulder injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Fernandez retired officially on September 27th, 2001.