At age 21, Jose Fernandez has made the leap from prized prospect to head of the class.

The Marlins' phenom, who has an inspiring personal story and mesmerizing talent, has been voted the National League Rookie of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA). Long considered a front-runner, the achievement was officially announced on Monday night.

Fernandez was a finalist along with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller. The Rays' Wil Myers won the American League Rookie of the Year Award.

Fernandez beat long odds to even gain his freedom from Cuba. He reached the United States after several failed attempts, and after settling in Tampa, Fla., in 2008, the hard-throwing right-hander doggedly pursued his baseball dream. The Marlins made him the 14th overall selection in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

As an organization, the Marlins rely heavily on player development. Fernandez is the latest to be recognized for his success. He is the fourth player in franchise history to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award, joining Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez (2006) and Chris Coghlan (2009).

Entering the season, MLB.com ranked Fernandez as the Marlins' No. 1 prospect and the seventh overall prospect in the Majors.

Whether Fernandez had the skill set to be a top-flight rookie was never in question. His big league arrival time was. Many believed his first opportunity would come at least midway through 2013 or perhaps in '14.

Initially projected to open the season at Double-A Jacksonville, Fernandez instead found himself on the Opening Day roster due to a couple of injuries. The right-hander seized the moment, and at age 20, made his MLB debut on April 7.

Handled with care because of his age and inexperience, Fernandez quickly showed he not only belonged in the big leagues, but he could also dominate at the highest level.

Fernandez finished 12-6, and his 2.19 ERA was second in the NL to Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw's 1.83.

In Fernandez's 28 starts, the Marlins were 18-10. Fernandez paced all NL rookies in ERA (2.19), strikeouts (187), batting average against (.182) and WHIP (0.98). He also averaged 9.75 strikeouts per nine innings

The only thing that slowed the rookie down were limitations imposed by his own organization.

On the eve of the season opener, the Marlins made it clear Fernandez was subject to an innings-limit range of 150-170. Due to his age and the fact he hadn't pitched above Class A, the club closely monitored the right-hander.

Fernandez pushed it to 172 2/3 innings.