Hot Rod of the Day 4/28/14: Oscar Hernandez

By Fletcher Keel

Since I last came to you with a Hot Rod of the Day (yeah, it’s been a while. Completely my bad, the real world gets in the way of important things some times. But as an Abercrombie and Fitch shirt once told me, “make improvements, not excuses”) the Hot Rods have been playing much better…in a relative sense. They’ve put an end to their near Midwest League record losing streak (snapped at 13 games) and Bowling Green is winning games on a more consistent basis. Unfortunately, they’re also blowing a plethora of games late. One of those games came yesterday in the series finale against the Toronto Blue Jays affiliate Lansing Lugnuts.

Again, the usual suspects are playing well–Johnny Field, Darryl George, Granden Goetzman, Kean Wongas is the catcher position in general, with  Armando Araiza and Oscar Hernandez both doing well behind the plate and in the batter’s box. The latter of the two backstops is where our focus lies today.

Hernandez is still a young player and every scout will tell you that he has a long way to go before he can even dream of making a big league roster. However, he seems to have all of the tools and ability to ultimately get to the show one day. The one thing that stands about about him is his tools at the plate–one Baseball Prospectus scouting report says that his hands work well at the plate, and there fore, is extremely quick to the ball and can handle secondary pitches well. All of these attributes were highlighted back in 2011, when Hernandez won not only the Venezuelan Summer League MVP, but captured the triple crown, setting VSL records in batting average (.402), home runs (21) and RBIs (66). All of this before making his U.S. debut in 2012.

While he is praised for his offense, his defense has been improving. Scouts note his plus arm strength (Hernandez threw out 57% of attempted basestealers last season) and gets in front of pitches to knock them down well. He’s also noted for his ability to call the game, which only comes with a knowledge that will expand the more he plays.

So far this season, Hernandez has perfectly split time with Araiza through 22 games, and after a 4-for-5 day at the plate yesterday, bumped his average up from a measly .095 to .170. Hernandez also drove in two runs, and came across the plate himself, but did allow two runners to swipe second base. It’s been a rough beginning to 2014 for Oscar Hernandez, but as he grows as a player, the sky seems to be the limit for him.