Righthander Jose Fernandez has been ruled ineligible to play baseball for his senior season at Alonso High in Tampa, according to Alonso athletic director K.R. Lombardia.
The ruling stems from Florida High School Athletic Association rule 9.5.1, which states, "A student has four consecutive calendar years of eligibility from the date he/she begins ninth grade for the first time."
Fernandez began ninth grade in 2006, in Cuba. During the beginning of his sophomore year, he tried to flee the country and was caught by the U.S. Coast Guard, 15 miles from Key West. The Coast Guard returned him to Cuba and he spent six days in jail before he was ordered to spend a year under house arrest.
In April of 2008, Fernandez fled the country again and was successful in getting to Mexico before arriving in Tampa, where he joined his father. So, Fernandez did not go to school for the 2007-2008 school year, but picked up where he left off—in 10th grade—when he enrolled at Alonso for the 2008-2009 season.
Fernandez and Alonso appealed the decision to the district, but was denied an extra year of eligibility, so they are taking their appeal to the FHSAA, and the second appeal is slated for Nov. 21.
Fernandez's birth date is listed at July 31, 1992, although there have also been unconfirmed rumors that he is older. Fernandez recently starred in the World Wood Bat Association tournament in Jupiter, throwing up to 97 mph with his fastball.
If his appeal is denied, Fernandez may opt to enroll in a junior college to play this spring, but that is purely speculation at this point.
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