||Born: September 7, 1987
Height: 6′ 0″
Signed: Int. FA, Detroit Tigers, 2005
How Acquired: Trade (for Nate McLouth)
Agent: Scott Boras
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|The Pirates obtained Hernandez, along with RHP Charlie Morton and LHP Jeff Locke, from the Braves for Nate McLouth. The Braves had acquired Hernandez from Detroit in the Edgar Renteria trade. Baseball America rated him the fourth best prospect in the Braves’ system going into 2009 and the third best in the Carolina League in 2008. He also won an MVP award in 2007. BA billed Hernandez as a five-tool player, although there hasn’t been any evidence of power. So far he’s looked more like a CF/leadoff type player with modest gap power, or perhaps more like a fourth outfielder. He runs well and is very good defensively, probably the best defensive outfielder in the organization. He gets good jumps, takes good routes and has a very strong arm. He’s shown good base stealing ability some of the time. The question remains how much he’ll hit, as he tends to be very tentative at bat, taking defensive, unaggressive swings.
Had a good year in the GCL. The five HRs he hit, in just 50 games, remain tied for his career high, as he hasn’t shown power like this since.
In low A, Hernandez hit for average and stole a lot of bases. He didn’t draw a lot of walks, but he fanned only once every seven ABs.
After the trade to the Braves, Hernandez’ hitting tailed off in high A. The pitchers’ park at Myrtle Beach could have been a factor. His walk rate increased to 48, but his K rate increased to one every five ABs.
Hernandez was doing very well at time of trade, especially as 21-year-old in AA. He struggled afterward, hitting .244 in June and July, although he rebounded to hit .286 in Aug/Sept. He showed little power and the strikeouts increased again to nearly one every four ABs. His base stealing efficiency was poor before and after the trade. Concerns about Hernandez’ attitude surfaced when he was removed from Altoona games twice, once for failing to run out a ball and once for actions toward an umpire.
The Pirates sent Hernandez back to Altoona and his hitting problems seemed to magnify. Even in training camp that year he looked very reluctant even to swing the bat. He hit just .192 in April and .250 in May. He started coming around in June, posting an OPS of .815 that month and .742 in July. He also improved base stealing efficiency a great deal. Unfortunately, his season ended in late July due to broken finger suffered while trying to bunt. For the season he fanned in over a quarter of his ABs.
Hernandez moved up to AAA and continued to struggle initially, posting a .632 OPS in April. He missed a little time due to injury but got hot in May, hitting .283, then batted 337/367/481 in June. He tailed off after that, with OPS figures a little below .700 in July and August. Hernandez started hitting for a little more gap power and his K rate started back in the right direction, as he fanned a little less than once every four and a half ABs. He registered 11 outfield assists and took part in five double plays. The Pirates did not call him up in September, although they supposedly had considered him as an injury fill-in during the season.
The Pirates’ signing of Nate McLouth eliminated any chance Hernandez had of making the team out of spring training in 2012. He probably had no real chance anyway, as shown by the team’s failure to call him up in September. Although he made progress in 2011, the team probably isn’t satisfied with his hitting. He hasn’t slugged .400 since rookie ball and he’s putting up K:BB ratios around 3:1, which doesn’t bode well for his sucess at the major league level. With Starling Marte turning into one of the better prospects in the minors and Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata and Alex Presley all seemingly established in the majors, it’s hard to see a role for Hernandez, although Clint Hurdle’s preference for speed-and-defense bench players would seem to work in his favor. Hernandez will be back at Indianapolis in 2012, but he’ll play primarily in left, with Marte in center.
|2012: League minimum salary|
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2009
Options Remaining: 1 (USED: 2010, 2011)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|April 30, 2005: Signed by the Detroit Tigers as an international free agent.
October 29, 2007: Acquired by the Atlanta Braves from the Detroit Tigers along with Jair Jurrjens in exchange for Edgar Renteria.
June 3, 2009: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Atlanta Braves along with Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke in exchange for Nate McLouth.
November 20, 2009: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.