The latest, but hardly the greatest, of the long line of shortstops from San Pedro de Macoris. Signed by the Braves at allegedly 19 years old in 2003, he looked like nothing more than organizational fodder until 2007, when he hit .308/.366/.429 combined at Myrtle Beach and Mississippi, mostly the latter. (Note that the previous season’s M-Braves shortstop, Yunel Escobar, had hit .264/.361/.346. It’s a tough place to hit.) He didn’t maintain all his gains in 2008, but hit well enough to stay on the prospect radar, and tore up the International League in the first half of 2009, earning a callup in May when Omar Infante went down with an injury.
It didn’t go too well. Hernandez, who had gotten a bad-glove rep in the minors, looked awkward in the field, though his stats there were pretty positive. (I have a lot of doubts about infielder evaluation in the minors anyway.) The real problem was that he didn’t hit at all — .141/.198/.212 with 22 strikeouts in 85 AB. Needless to say, that took a lot of the shine off his minor league numbers, which took a hit anyway when he was sent back down and didn’t hit nearly as well as he had before — after hitting .355 before his callup, he finished the year hitting .319. He then, I believe, got hurt playing winter ball, and missed most of the first half of this season, falling behind Brandon Hicks in the Braves’ hierarchy of marginal infield prospects, until Hicks came up and looked totally overmatched. Hernandez is hitting .319, again, in AAA, but with a big plunge in his walk rate, cutting his OBP from .399 last year to .344, and a little less power than last year.
A remarkably poor basestealer in the minors, with some ugly seasonal numbers like 24 of 46 in 2007 and 8 of 17 in 2008. Hicks could do that better, and probably has a better glove, but Hernandez is marginally more likely to hit. It remains unclear, however, if in a big pinch-hit situation you’d rather have him up than Medlen or Hudson.