You can never have too much pitching depth.
According to Ben Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Julian Fernandez to a minor-league contract.
Fernandez, a native of the Dominican Republic, has spent his entire career with the Colorado Rockies, who signed him back in 2013. He made his big-league debut with the Rockies in 2021 and allowed eight earned runs over the course of six-and-two-thirds innings.
After a difficult 2022 season in which he posted a 6.63 ERA over 58 appearances in Triple-A, Fernandez impressed while pitching in the Dominican Winter League. He tossed 16 innings for Aguilas and allowed just five earned runs on 15 hits and six walks while striking out seven.
The thing that makes Fernandez an interesting addition for the Blue Jays is his velocity. As Nicholson-Smith noted in the Tweet above, Fernandez averaged 99 miles-per-hour on his fastball while pitching for Colorado during the 2021 season and maxed out at 103 mph.
The trouble for Fernandez has been his command and keeping the ball in the park, as he walked 5.1 batters per nine and he gave up 15 dingers over those 57 innings in Triple-A in 2022. To be fair, when it comes to the dingers, Fernandez was pitching for the Isotopes in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a place where the ball absolutely flies, so we can cut him a little bit of slack in that regard.
Since it’s a minor-league deal, Fernandez won’t take up a spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster. The hope is they can catch lightning in a bottle with a high-upside arm coming from an organization with a very poor track record of developing pitchers.