If you visit the Red Sox’ official website and go to their 40-man roster page, you may notice an unfamiliar name included within the list of pitchers in Ryan Fernandez.
Fernandez, 23, has yet to pitch above the High-A level, so him being listed on Boston’s 40-man roster is more than likely the result of a web error or something of the sort.
Still, since Fernandez made his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves this past Wednesday, this felt like an opportune time to write about the right-hander the Red Sox selected in the 23rd round of the 2018 amateur draft out of Hillsborough Community College in Florida.
A native of Tampa, Fla. himself, Fernandez signed with the Sox for $125,000 in June 2018 and made his professional debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League. He then spent the entirety of the 2019 campaign with the short-season Lowell Spinners.
After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, Fernandez returned to affiliated ball in 2021 and broke camp with Low-A Salem. In 17 relief appearances for the Salem Sox, the righty posted a 1.50 ERA and 2.39 FIP to go along with 42 strikeouts to just nine walks over 36 innings of work.
On August 14, Fernandez earned a promotion to High-A Greenville and wound wind up ending the season with the Drive. Over seven outings there, Fernandez pitched to the tune of a 4.32 ERA and 5.21 FIP with 18 strikeouts and five walks across 16 2/3 innings pitched.
A 4.32 ERA is not an eye-opening statistic, obviously. In Fernandez’s case, however, it is worth mentioning that he allowed just one run over his final three appearances (6 innings) of the 2021 season in the month of September.
Among the 39 minor-league pitchers in the Red Sox organization who compiled at least 50 innings on the mound last year, Fernandez ranked second in ERA (2.39), 15th in strikeouts per nine innings (10.25), 11th in walks per nine innings (2.39), 12th in strikeout rate (27.8%) walk rate (6.5%), and batting average against (.230), ninth in WHIP (1.14), sixth in FIP (3.28) and xFIP (3.58), and eighth in swinging strike rate (16.7%), per FanGraphs.
Listed at 6-feet and 170 pounds, Fernandez operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a 92-94 mph fastball that tops out at 95 mph, an 85-87 mph slider, an 80-84 mph curveball, and an 83-85 mph changeup, according to his SoxProspects.com scouting report.
You will not find Fernandez, who turns 24 in June, on any major publication’s top Red Sox prospects list. Still, the Florida-born reliever is coming off a solid 2021 between both levels of A-ball and has received some attention this spring.
On that note, SoxProspects.com projects that Fernandez will return to Greenville for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. If he impresses there, though, a promotion to Double-A Portland at some point this spring or summer should not be ruled out.
(Picture of Ryan Fernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)