Alex Fernandez has had an interesting baseball career in South Florida. He was a local prep star, college star and a World Series champion with the Marlins.
But his greatest accomplishment is running baseball operations in Archbishop McCarthy High School and turning the Mavericks into a dynasty. And the fruit of his seven-year labor has emerged as the everyday third baseman of the Detroit Tigers.
Nick Castellanos is the true definition of a protégé. He knew Fernandez and his son of the same namesake since he was five years old.
After winning the state championship with American Heritage as a sophomore in 2008, he wanted to leave the school and Fernandez’s Archbishop McCarthy program was the first option.
“We’re really good friends,” Castellanos said of the junior Fernandez. “Ever since I was little. He wanted us to come over and we saw what they were doing with the program and we were set to go.”
They went on to win the state championship in 2010, which started the school’s four-year dynasty. He signed a letter of intent to go to the University of Miami but was selected by the Tigers with the 44th pick of the 2010 MLB Draft.
“I never been to college before so I can’t tell you how a fraternity is but there is an instant connection you have with somebody," Castellanos said.
Being coached by a ten-year MLB veteran had Castellanos ready for the pros, even as a teenager.
“He’ll explain to me on different situations how to approach and how to handle things just because he’s done it as a pitcher,” Castellanos said. “If you can get into the mind of a pitcher, it’s gonna make you a better hitter."
On top of that, Fernandez said he taught Castellanos how to handle himself as a professional and other intangibles that scouts look for in a prospect. He’s done a lot in South Florida, but seeing one of his own in the Major Leagues is on the top of the list.
Right now Castellanos is hitting .235 with a .637 OPS, but the Tigers are exercising patience with Castellanos knowing that he'll eventually come to his own and be the missing piece to their championship puzzle.
“It’s special,” Fernandez said. “It makes me proud that we were part of his path.”