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Barraclough honored by Fernandez Award

10/04/2016, 12:00pm PDT
By Joe Frisaro /

Former BAWS'r received the organization's top rookie honor

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Marlins reliever Kyle Barraclough often watched in awe the wayJose Fernandez dominated hitters with his overpowering fastball and wipeout slider.

On Wednesday night, Barraclough was deeply humbled to receive the organization's top rookie honor, which is now named after Fernandez, who died in a boating accident on Sunday morning.

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The South Florida chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) presented its awards in the Marlins' home finale.

The winners were Barraclough (Jose Fernandez Rookie), Christian Yelich (MVP), Martin Prado (Charlie Hough Good Guy) and Ichiro Suzuki (Jeff Conine Award for heart and professionalism).

At a time of grieving, there has been little cause for celebration around the club over the past few days. Pregame Wednesday there was a memorial at Marlins Park and a public viewing at a nearby Miami church. On Thursday, the team attended funeral services before heading to Washington to open a weekend series with the Nationals.

"With everything that has gone on this week, it's a huge honor for me," Barraclough said on Friday. "Not so much just winning the award, but just because it's now named after him."

Barraclough has quietly had an outstanding season. Not just for a rookie but any reliever.

The 26-year-old right-hander leads all National League relievers in strikeouts (113) and strikeouts per nine innings (14).

"We always used to joke that our stuff was similar," Barraclough said, "so that helped, too. Our stuff was similar, so we could attack hitters the same way."

Fernandez set a franchise season record with 253 strikeouts, and he was tops in the Majors among starters in strikeouts per nine innings (12.5).

"No one is the same," Barraclough said. "So it's always different in terms of, his stuff might do this well against hitters and mine do this better.

"It was very easy to watch him throw and see what he was doing to people. You're a little amazed while you're also trying to be like, 'Hey, you know, I can try and do that same thing.'"

Barraclough, who may someday emerge as a closer, has an average fastball velocity of 96.25 mph, according to Statcast™, and a spin rate of 2,443. Those numbers match closely to Fernandez's 95.96-mph fastball and 2,406 spin rate.

"He did so many things so well," Barraclough said. "If I could just take a couple of tidbits from him, and if it could teach me something in talking with him, I'm going to listen.

"Even though he was so young, he had so many experiences you could draw from and pick his brain on. Even just watching him, how he went about attacking certain hitters and stuff like that."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.