Blue Jays ink Fernandez's son
Progeny of Toronto great was drafted in 34th round
TORONTO -- For years, the Blue Jays could count on shortstop Tony Fernandez to provide top-notch defense while contributing at the plate. Now, the Jays are hoping another Fernandez will soon patrol the infield in Toronto -- Tony's son, Jonathan.
Jonathan Fernandez was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 34th round of the First-Year Player Draft on Thursday and signed with the team on Friday.
Tony Fernandez -- honored with a spot on Rogers Centre's Level of Excellence -- was a four-time All-Star who holds Blue Jays records in games played and total hits.
Like his father, Jonathan Fernandez is a switch-hitting shortstop -- but one the elder Fernandez believes to be the better athlete of the two.
"I think he's more talented," Tony said. "He's going to prove that he is more talented than I was at that age. He has a stronger arm than I had. I was a little bit quicker than him, though. But I believe that he has better potential."
The 21-year-old shortstop hit .306 with 20 RBIs in 46 games for the National Junior College Athletics Association's Guilford Technical Community College this year.
"Jonathan's just an athletic young player," Blue Jays scouting director Jon Lalonde said. "He's a terrific young man. He's got great energy. He loves to play -- that really comes through. He can play shortstop, he can play some center field.
"[He's] just someone who really deserves the opportunity, and being Tony's son, I'm really glad that opportunity seems to have come with the Blue Jays."
This is the second time the Jays have drafted Jonathan Fernandez -- they picked him in the 48th round of the 2006 Draft as a high school senior. He did not sign with the Jays, though, opting to attend college instead. He spent a year at Guilford Tech after transferring from Broward College.
"He's really improved since high school," Lalonde said. "Last time we took him, quite honestly, he wasn't ready for professional baseball at that time. He's since gone to school. He's gotten stronger. He's matured. His skills have improved.
"This time I anticipate sending him out to play and having him put on the Blue Jays uniform."
It was a thrill for Tony Fernandez to have his son -- who was born in Canada and has dual Canadian-American citizenship -- drafted by the team he spent parts of 12 seasons with.
"I played there most of my career, and I left a legacy there, and now he's following in my footsteps," the elder Fernandez said. "It would have been exciting if he started his career anywhere, but it's more exciting, because he's starting his career where I started mine.
"[My children] were born in Canada. I always considered Toronto my second home. It's part of them, and they know that. I'm very excited about it for that reason."
Erika Gilbert is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.