Miami Marlins’ hurler Jose Fernandez accomplished something only a handful of foreign baseball players have been able to accomplish: he passed the Naturalization Test and became a citizen of the United States of America.
During a ceremony Friday morning, Fernandez, the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year, along with another 140 residents, was sworn in to become an American citizen and was also the main speaker.
Fernandez, now 22, arrived in the United States back in 2008 and attended Alonso High School in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him as the 14th overall pick in the 2011 draft and had him make his Major League debut in 2013 after the Cuban native from Santa Clara, Villa Clara, only reached High-A in the Marlins’ minors system. Fernandez quickly became a sensation and went on to appear in the All-Star Game that year while finishing third in the NL Cy Young Award voting and taking home the Rookie of the Year prize.
Fernandez is currently on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. He was only able to make eight starts for the fourth-place Marlins in 2014.
Fernandez said great things about the United States during his speech and the Marlins represented him with an American flag that flew over their stadium, according to ESPN.
He said that this is one of the most important accomplishments of his life and thanked this “beautiful country” for all of the opportunities and for enabling him to now be free.