Jose Fernandez expects tears to stream down his mother's face when he tosses his first Major League pitch on Sunday.
Fernandez, at 20 years and 250 days old, will make his big league debut on Sunday, despite having never pitched at a level above Class A. The right-hander, ranked No. 7 on MLB.com's Top 100 Prospect List, was the Marlins' first-round Draft selection in 2011. He'll be the youngest hurler in team history to appear in a game.
"I think he is excited," said Marlins manager Mike Redmond. "Probably a little nervous. Get him through that first inning, and he will think, 'Hey, this is what I've done my whole life.' Get him out there and just execute the game plan. I'm excited to get to watch him."
Fernandez defected from Cuba in 2008. He'll make his debut five years and two days after arriving in the United States. His mother, Maritza, his father and high school coach will be among 20 friends and family members in attendance at Citi Field.
"[My mom] has been more emotional than me for this situation," Fernandez said. "She texts me every day with the same text: 'I can't believe this is happening already. You are so young. You are realizing your dream. You had it in your mind, and I'm proud of you.'"
Fernandez fashioned a 14-1 record and 1.75 ERA in stops with Class A Greensboro and Class A Advanced Jupiter last season. On Sunday, he'll encounter a Mets team that has scored 32 runs in its first five contests.
"With a young guy, you just stay positive," Redmond said. "Let him go out there and do his thing. We're not going to give him too much information. When I was catching somebody's Major League debut, I gave them just the basics."
Southpaw Aaron Laffey is expected to take the hill for the Mets in place of Shaun Marcum, who is battling discomfort in his neck.
"Hopefully he comes in Sunday and pitches very well," manager Terry Collins said of Laffey. "If he does, he'll most likely get another start. But we're going to take it one start at a time right now."
Marlins: Stanton hoping to heat up
• Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton tallied a pair of singles in Saturday's loss to the Mets. The base knocks boosted his batting average to .222 (4-for-18), though the right fielder is still in search of his first homer of the year.
"I'm fine," Stanton said. "I've had bad stretches before. Obviously, it's magnified more because it's the beginning. But I'm fine."
Mets: More on Laffey
• In 22 appearances (16 starts) with the Blue Jays last season, Laffey posted a 4-6 mark and 4.56 ERA. For his career, the 28-year-old is 25-29 with a 4.38 ERA in 148 outings (65 starts). In 12 Grapefruit League innings, he compiled a 3.00 ERA.
"We just thought in Spring Training from what we saw from Aaron Laffey," Collins said, "that due to his experience -- he's had some success at this level -- he would be our first option right now."
• Mets catcher John Buck grabbed hold of the National League lead in RBIs on Saturday, as he now has nine for the season.
• Fernandez is the youngest pitcher on a 2013 Opening Day roster.