The baseball world is in mourning Sunday after Miami Marlins officials confirmed the tragic death of 24-year-old All-Star pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in an early morning boating accident off the coast of Miami Beach.
“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez,” the club said in a statement Sunday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
In the statement, the Marlins announced Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Braves had been canceled. Earlier this week, the Marlins said Fernandez would be making his final start of the season Monday at home. The young pitcher leaves behind a girlfriend, who he recently announced on Instagram is pregnant.
The U.S. Coast Guard said Fernandez was one of three victims killed in the deadly accident, which occurred around 3:30 a.m. ET when authorities say a 32-foot vessel had a “severe impact” with a jetty, according to The Associated Press. Officials said none of the victims were wearing a life jacket, and all three people in the boat were friends.
The heartbreaking news sent shock waves throughout baseball as it remembered one of the sport’s most popular players. A two-time All-Star and the 2013 NL Rookie of the Year, Fernandez was in the midst of yet another impressive year.
The excitable Cuban was a front-runner for the NL Cy Young award after going 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA and league-leading 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Selected with the 14th pick in the 2011 draft, Fernandez was widely considered among the top pitchers in baseball and a face of the sport.
Fernandez, who famously tried to defect from Cuba at least three times, had eight strikeouts in an electric five-inning debut April 7, 2013 against the Mets, and would go on to author a 2.19 ERA across 172 2/3 innings during his award-winning season as a 20-year-old rookie. Over parts of four seasons, Fernandez struck out 589 batters and compiled a 2.58 ERA – the 16th-best mark in history among pitchers through their age-23 season.
He missed more than a year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, and returned triumphantly last season with a 6-1 record and 79 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. Fernandez, who spent time in jail after one of his unsuccessful attempts to flee Cuba, became a U.S. citizen last year.