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Alonso pitcher Jose Fernandez took a major step toward regaining his senior-season eligibility.
On Sunday the Florida High School Athletic Association board of directors voted 11-4 that Fernandez can become eligible, "provided he can produce documents to prove he lost a year because of his flee from Cuba," FHSAA spokesperson Seth Polansky said.
The Cuban-born Fernandez, a USF commit who will likely be one of the bay area's top MLB draft picks in 2011, was ruled ineligible because of a violation of FHSAA rule 9.5.1, which states every student-athlete has four consecutive years of eligibility from the time the student begins the ninth grade. Since Fernandez started the ninth grade in 2006 in Cuba, this year is Fernandez's fifth year.
Fernandez fled his home island successfully in 2007 through Mexico and enrolled at Alonso for the 2008-09 school year as a sophomore. During his 10th-grade year in Cuba, he made a failed attempt to flee to the United States. He was caught, returned to Cuba, briefly spent time in jail and did not continue school. When he enrolled at Alonso the next school year after spending time with his father in Mexico, he did so as a sophomore.
Polansky said the FHSAA has yet to receive the required documents so the case is still open.
"While the board voted to approve his appeal, the final decision still rests with the FHSAA after those papers have been turned in," Polansky said by e-mail.
Fernandez played in the summer's Aflac All-America Game in San Diego and was his fastball was recently clocked at 97 mph in the World Wood Bat Association Tournament in Jupiter.
-- EDUARDO A. ENCINA (firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @EddieHometeam)