Jose Fernandez, the young ace of the Miami Marlins and one of the brightest stars in the MLB, died in a boating accident in Miami Beach early Sunday morning. He was 24.
The Marlins’ scheduled afternoon game against the Atlanta Braves was canceled Sunday, and the team gathered in front of cameras and reporters in a highly emotional press conference. Manager Don Mattingly was visibly shaken as he reminisced about his young pitcher.
“When I think about Jose, I see such a little boy,” Mattingly said. “The way he played, there was just joy with him.”
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement on Fernandez’s death, describing him as “one of our game’s great young stars.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life.”
Teams across the league responded to the tragedy with outpourings of support. Fernandez’s teammate Christian Yelich posted a picture of himself and Fernandez hugging on the field.
“You played this game and lived your life 100 percent,” Yelich said. “The competitor you were is the competitor we all strive to be.”
A point of pride amongst the area’s community, Fernandez was drafted by the Marlins in the first round of the 2011 MLB draft, three years after he successfully defected from Cuba following three failed attempts. Fernandez was an instant standout upon his debut in 2013, making the All-Star Game and earning Rookie of the Year honors. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, he returned to old form this season, posting a 16-8 record and 2.86 ERA.
Fernandez went 38-17 over the course of four seasons, with a stellar 2.58 ERA and 589 strikeouts. The Marlins return to the field today against the Mets in what is likely to be an emotional evening.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 26 print edition. Email Michael Thompson at [email protected]