Miami Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Becomes U.S. Citizen

Jose Fernandez, the 22-year-old pitcher for the Miami Marlins. has become a U.S. Citizen. According to New York Daily News, Fernandez delivered the keynote speech at the naturalization ceremony that was held for him and another 140 other South Florida residents who were granted citizenship on Friday.

What makes Fernandez’s U.S. citizenship even more interesting is the fact that he was, until now, a Cuban. A native of the city of Santa Clara in Cuba, it was in 2008 that Jose arrived in the U.S. and settled in Tampa, Florida, according to Fox News. A visibly happy Jose talked to reporters after the ceremony.

“This is a dream that I’ve had since I was little, and actually achieving it is really amazing. Having my family here and so much support from this amazing country, it’s really fantastic.”

Jose, who is currently on the disabled list following an injury that left him missing most of the 2014 season, had earlier in 2013 earned the NL rookie of the year and All-Star honors. Fernandez was picked for the first time back in 2011 in the very first round by the Miami Marlins. He was a student at the Alonso High School in Tampa at that time.

“This is one of my important accomplishments,” he added. “I’m an American citizen now — I’m one of them. I consider myself now to be free.”

When he took to the podium following the naturalization ceremony, Jose Fernandez read out a prepared speech.

“Today is not really about I can throw 100 miles or I could be really good. Today is really important because all of us are the same today. We just became citizens. I’ve accomplished a couple of things in my life like probably you guys have, too, and I think, in my book, this is a huge one. Everybody here probably had to make a tough decision to come (to the U.S.), right? I thank this amazing country for giving me the opportunity to go to school here and learn the language and pitch in the major leagues. It’s an honor to be a part of this country, and I respect it so much.”

The 140 other people who sworn in as U.S. citizens included people from 22 different countries. At the ceremony, there were taped presentations from President Barack Obama as well Madeleine Albright, a former U.S. Secretary Of State. Albright, who was born in Czechoslovakia had in 1957 became a naturalized U.S. citizen back in 1957.

The grant of U.S. citizenship to Jose came just a few days after a historic meeting between Cuban President Raul Castro and President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, Jose Fernandez is expected to make his return to the majors this summer.

[Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images]