After touching 97 mph in an extended spring training game Monday, the 22-year-old phenom was hit hard while pitching for the Class A Jupiter Hammerheads, allowing eight hits and five earned runs with two strikeouts in three innings against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. He threw 39 strikes among his 54 pitches in his first game action since May 9, 2014.
"I'm working a lot on my fastball locations and changeups," Fernandez said after the start, according to Fox Sports. "I didn't throw a lot of breaking balls, only four or five, probably. That's just the stuff I'm working on. I feel really healthy."
Fernandez's two strikeouts each came on a 97 mph fastball, and he was told his velocity reached 99 mph, according to the Fox Sports report.
Marlins rehab pitching coordinator Wayne Rosenthal dismissed the mediocre result and emphasized the way Fernandez's elbow responds to pitching in live games as being of chief importance.
"His arm is healthy," Rosenthal said. "Sometimes, it's not about the results. It's about walking off the mound smiling and saying, 'You know what? I got the first one out of the way.'"
On Tuesday, Marlins manager Dan Jennings said early July is a realistic target for when to expect the former NL rookie of the year to return to the major league rotation, according to MLB Network Radio.
Fernandez is scheduled to make his next rehab start late next week.