Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was on top of the world before boat crash

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

(Instagram/Jose Fernandez)

(Instagram/Jose Fernandez)

Tragic Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had a summer befitting a rising baseball star playing in sun-kissed southern Florida.

Fernandez — killed over the weekend in a boating accident with two pals — was the type of feel-good story that made regular headlines.

In the summer before his horrific death, Fernandez spent lots of time with a group of close pals who called themselves ‘J’s Crew’.

They indulged in big game fishing (Fernandez’s Instagram account is packed with fishing photos) and cruised the waters off Miami. And that’s where it ended early Sunday.

Cops have ruled out booze or drugs as a factor in the crash, though they are awaiting toxicology test results, but say speed played a role.

In other photos, the pals dance around with bikini-clad women, smoking cigars and loving life.

Fernandez, 24, who escaped from communist Cuba when he was 15, is shown on his birthday, July 31, reeling in a big tuna.

But family always came first for the young star. One of the posted pictures is that of his pregnant girlfriend, Carla Mendoza.

He wrote: "I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst”

Tearful Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Fernandez embodied the game.

"When you watch kids play Little League or something like that, that’s the joy Jose played with and the passion he felt while playing,” Mattingly said. “There was a joy with him when he played.”

Fernandez — whose Sunday start had been pushed to Monday — had the night off and was at Miami hotspot American Social Bar & Kitchen at around 2 a.m., according to TMZ.

Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, were the other two men on the boat, the website reports.