JoFz positioned to make case for All-Star Game

MIAMI — Without an obvious All-Star candidate, the timing is right for rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez to make a case to represent the Marlins in the Midsummer Classic.

In fact, Fernandez is in position to make a statement on Friday night. The 20-year-old — a rising, young star — could increase his chances if he shuts down the team with the best record in baseball.

Fernandez gets the start in the series opener against the Cardinals at Marlins Park.

Miami’s other top rookie deserving of All-Star consideration is outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who is batting .314 with 17 RBIs in 39 games.

No Marlins position player ranks among the National League leaders in the fan voting. Pitchers can be voted in by the players, and they also are selected by the All-Star managers and Major League Baseball.

Fernandez’s 3-3 record and 3.17 ERA in his first 12 starts certainly aren’t eye-opening, but his raw talent is.

His fastball reached as high as 99 mph in his last start, a no-decision at the New York Mets. And he has command of four pitches.

Fernandez projects as a future ace.

In building his All-Star case, you simply can look at how the right-hander stacks up with the other National League rookie starting pitchers.

In strikeouts, Fernandez’s ranks third among NL rookies with 67 in 65 1/3 innings.

St. Louis’ Shelby Miller tops NL rookies with 91 in 81 1/3 innings, and Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers is second with 75 in 85 1/3 innings.

The Marlins’ first-round pick in 2011, Fernandez made the leap to the big leagues without pitching beyond Class A ball. He compiled 138 1/3 innings total in two Minor League seasons.

In a surprise move, the Marlins carried Fernandez on their Opening Day roster after Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez were placed on the disabled list the day before the season got underway.

Because of his youth, the Marlins are limiting Fernandez to between 150-170 innings. Being carefully monitored, he hasn’t thrown more than seven innings in any outing. And his season-high pitch total is 99, on May 16 against the Reds.

Even with a pitch limit, there would likely be a little wiggle room for an inning or two of relief in the All-Star Game.

Joe Frisaro

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