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Boise Hawks reliever Fernandez working to harness 100-plus-mph fastball

Boise Hawks closer Fernandez finishes two-inning save

Julian Fernandez recorded his Northwest League-leading eighth save of the summer in a 5-3 win over the Spokane Indians on Sunday. It was Fernandez's first two-inning save of the season.
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Julian Fernandez recorded his Northwest League-leading eighth save of the summer in a 5-3 win over the Spokane Indians on Sunday. It was Fernandez's first two-inning save of the season.

All 35 members of the Boise Hawks work every day to develop a major-league-level skill that might earn them a promotion up the Colorado Rockies’ ladder.

Julian Fernandez already owns one.

The Dominican right-hander’s fastball tops out at 103 mph, and he sits consistently in the upper 90s. But like anyone else in the Northwest League with a rare talent, harnessing it remains the key.

“He’s raw, absolutely raw,” said Hawks pitching coach Doug Jones, a former major-league reliever with 303 saves.

“A lot of these kids that come from the Dominican, they don’t grow up in Little League. They grow up in the street, and somebody invites them over to the camp and they find a place where they might fit. Then they begin to teach them to do one specific thing.”

Fernandez’s specific thing hails from a family trait. His older brother, Raul, also throws a 100-plus mph with the Minnesota Twins’ Double-A affiliate.

Fernandez figured he’d join the triple-digit club one day but said he surprised himself when he hit 100 mph last season as a 19-year-old in the Dominican Summer League.

The velocity comes with a trade off — command. Fernandez has walked more batters than he’s struck out in three of his four years as a professional, including 15 walks to 11 strikeouts in 14 innings this summer.

The command hasn’t hurt his results. He sports a 1.93 ERA and leads the NWL lead with eight saves. But in order to progress as a professional, he knows he can’t keep issuing free passes.

He’ll mix in an occasional slider. But he’s stuck with his fastball and a work-in-progress changeup this season as he works on his mechanics, especially a more consistent finish to his delivery, in hopes of harnessing his heater.

“I work just to throw to my target,” said Fernandez with Javier Medina translating. “Throwing hard, it’s kind of hard to control myself.”

Jones said it’s been a process. He has worked with Fernandez to bump up his baseball IQ and his fundamentals, and convince him he doesn’t have to throw it by every batter.

“I don’t have the detailed information about what he’s been doing since Day 1,” Jones said. “But since he’s been here, it’s just been about trying to get him to comprehend that velocity is unimportant.”

FORMER HAWKS IN THE NEWS

First MLB call-up: Outfielder David Dahl is set to become the first Hawk to reach the majors since Boise became a Colorado affiliate last season. The Denver Post reported Sunday the Rockies will call up Dahl on Monday. The 22-year-old hit .125 in six games with Boise last summer while on a rehab assignment.

Torres centerpiece of Chapman trade? Shortstop Gleyber Torres, the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect who played seven games in Boise in 2014, was scratched Sunday from a start in Single-A Myrtle Beach. Multiple media outlets are reporting he’s the key piece in a trade with the Yankees to acquire reliever Aroldis Chapman.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

Hawks 5, Indians 3

Closer Julian Fernandez recorded his first two-inning save of the season to stave off Spokane on Sunday at Memorial Stadium.

Boise (16-21) won for the fourth time in six games. The Hawks close the first half of the season at home at 7:15 p.m. Monday against Spokane (18-19).

Spokane

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

AVG

Day cf

3

1

1

0

2

2

.264

Prescott 2b

4

0

1

0

1

0

.289

Spivey c

5

1

1

1

0

0

.293

Scott lf

5

0

2

1

0

1

.278

Smith cf

5

0

1

1

0

2

.287

Terrero 1b

3

0

1

0

0

0

.290

Lohr 3b

4

0

0

0

0

0

.219

McDonald dh

3

0

0

0

1

0

.224

Leblanc ss

2

1

0

0

2

0

.262

Totals

34

3

7

3

6

5

Boise

AB

R

H

BI

BB

SO

AVG

Linkous lf

3

1

2

0

1

0

.220

Suero cf

3

1

1

1

1

0

.198

Hampson ss

3

1

0

0

1

2

.310

Bosiokovic 1b

4

1

1

2

0

2

.347

Abreu dh

4

1

1

2

0

2

.289

WJones 3b

4

0

0

0

0

2

.308

Brito 2b

1

0

0

0

3

0

.289

Stephens rf

4

0

1

0

0

2

.192

Wear c

3

0

0

0

0

3

.189

Totals

29

5

6

5

6

13

Spokane

101

000

001

3

7

2

Boise

300

000

20x

5

6

2

E — Pelham, Smith, Brito, Bosiokovic. LOB — Spokane 11, Boise 7. 2B — Spivey, Linkous. 3B — Suero. HR — Abreu. SB — Suero, Hampson 2. CS — Leblanc, Brito.

Spokane

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Pelham L, 0-1

3

4

3

2

2

7

3.20

MVasquez

2 2/3

1

0

0

3

4

1.84

Stubblefield

 1/3

0

0

0

0

0

8.10

Ferguson

2

1

2

2

1

2

2.05

Boise

IP

H

R

ER

BB

SO

ERA

Garcia

2 1/3

4

2

2

2

2

5.63

Cedotal W, 1-0

2 2/3

1

0

0

1

1

3.94

Gesell H, 2

1

0

0

0

2

0

2.19

Moore H, 1

1

0

0

0

0

0

12.46

Fernandez S, 8

2

2

1

1

2

0

1.93

WP — Pelham. HBP — Terrero (by Garcia), Wear (by MVasquez).

Umpires — Home, Codey Davis; First, Tanner Dobson. T — 3:01. A — 2,197.

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