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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s a big day for Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez.

The 22-year-old, who defected from Cuba in 2008, is now an American citizen.

“Every day when I wake up and I look around me and I know that I’m free—that’s a dream,” Fernandez said Friday.

Fernandez, long with 140 South Florida residents, became a citizen during a special ceremony held by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Click here to watch Michael Cugno’s report. 

Fernandez gave two tickets to a game to those who were becoming citizens on Friday.

The news, on Thursday came courtesy of a press release from the USCIS Kendall Field Office:

On Friday, April 24, 2015, USCIS will hold a special citizenship ceremony where Marlins’ pitcher, Jose Fernandez, will become America’s newest U.S. citizen. Hernandez, a native of Cuba will also be the keynote speaker during the event which will naturalize another 140 South Florida residents.

Fernandez will take the Oath of Allegiance among family and friends. The young pitcher came to the U.S. from his native town of Santa Clara in Cuba in 2008. In his 2013 professional debut season, he was named 2013 National League Rookie of the Year.

Fernandez is expected back in the Marlins lineup sometime around the MLB All-Star Break, depending on his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.

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