(Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
Junior Fernandez signed a contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines to play in the NPB in Japan for the 2024 regular season. The Chiba Lotte Marines announced the news on December 9. The Chiba Lotte Marines were founded in 1950 and have won four Japan Series Championships.
Junior Fernandez, 26 is a Dominican pitcher who spent this past season in the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals Triple-A affiliates’. Fernandez is also currently pitching in LIDOM for Aguilas Cibaenas. Fernandez is a right-handed pitcher who tops out at 99 MPH with his fastball. He also had a slider that tops out at 89 MPH and a changeup that has reached 91 MPH.
Fernandez was signed in 2014 by the St. Louis Cardinals as an International Free Agent out of the Dominican Republic. Fernandez played in the Cardinals Minor League System for five years, until he got the call-up to MLB in 2019.
Fernandez pitched 13 games out of the Cardinals bullpen in 2019. Fernandez threw 11.2 innings, with 16 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.40. In 2020 Fernandez only appeared in three games with the Cardinals due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. In 2021, Fernandez pitched 20.2 innings, with 15 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.66. His season ended with a shoulder strain on September 12, 2021.
Fernandez started his next season with the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate the Memphis Red Birds. Fernandez got called back up to the Cardinals on May 23, 2022. Fernandez got sent back down two more times and had three MLB stints with the Cardinals in 2022. Fernandez’s MLB stats were 18.2 innings, 14 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.41. His Triple-A stats were 36.2 innings, 45 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.45.
Fernandez was designated for assignment, and claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates on September 7, 2022. He spent the rest of the 2022 regular season with Triple-A Indiannopolis. Fernandez was designated for assignment by the Pirates in the offseason.
He was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays before the 2023 season.He pitched in Triple-A with the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate the Buffalo Bisons He was released on August 22, 2023. He signed with the Washington Nationals on August 29. He pitched with their Triple-A affiliate the Rochester Red Wings. He decided to become a free agent on November 6, before signing with the Chiba Lotte Marines. His career MLB stats are 54 innings, 47 strikeouts, and an ERA of 5.17.
Fernandez has pitched 10.2 innings with Aguilas Cibaenas in LIDOM this winter. He has 10 strikeouts with an ERA of 1.74. He made his LIDOM debut in 2020 and this is his third season pitching in LIDOM. His stats are 22.1 innings, 17 strikeouts, and an ERA of 4.03.
The Chiba Lotte Mariners first game is on March 29 of the 2024 regular season against the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters on the road at Es Con Field. No game start times have yet been announced by the league.