Tuesday, July 26, 2016

In appreciation of: Teoscar Hernandez

This is the second in a series titled In Appreciation Of: (Insert minor-leaguer) in which we highlight a minor-leaguer who is unheralded and straight killing it. Tonight it's Teoscar Hernandez.

Born in October 1992 - 23 years old, if you don't want to do math - Teoscar Hernandez is a 6'2" 180lb outfielder who has been in the system for quite some time. He signed as an amateur free agent prior to the 2011 season, and spent that season in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .274/.360/.487 with 16 stolen bases (in 20 attempts). Solid. He struck out 42 times to 28 walks. 

So in 2012, his Age 19 season, Hernandez came stateside and played in 51 games with the GCL Astros. He struggled, which is to be expected in a first season in a different country, with a .724 OPS. In 2013, Hernandez played in 123 games for Quad Cities and was impressive: .271/.328/.435 with 24 stolen bases. He hit 13 homers, 25 doubles, nine triples. 

But 2014 is where Hernandez broke out in the friendly hitting confines of Lancaster and the Cal League. In 96 games for the JetHawks, Hernandez hit .294/.376/.550. 58 of his 115 hits went for extra-bases (33 doubles, 8 triples, 17 homers). He was 31-for-37 in stolen base attempts. This earned him a late call-up to Double-A Corpus Christi, where in 23 games Hernandez hit .284/.299/.474. He struck out in 36 of his 98 PAs - only walking twice. But still, he hit four home runs and was set up for a big season at Corpus in 2015.

It didn't happen. Hernandez struggled greatly in 2015, easily the worst season of his young career. In 121 games (514 PAs), Hernandez hit .219/.275/.362, with 126K:33BB. He did hit 17 home runs and stole 33 bases. Hernandez had trouble making contact and, when he did make contact, they didn't often fall in for hits. Winter Ball wasn't much more friendly, with a .670 OPS in 17 games. 

So in his Age 23 season, Hernandez opened 2016 back in Corpus where he recaptured some of his 2014 magic, hitting .305/.384/.437 in a nice 69 games. He had 19 doubles, six homers and stole 29 bases...in 69 games. He struck out 55 times with 32 walks in 322 PAs. 

Hernandez was called up to Fresno on the same day as Alex Bregman. In 21 games since, Bregman has gone on to Houston but Hernandez has actually improved on his Corpus numbers, hitting .329/.395/.553 for the Grizzlies in the last three weeks. He has ten strikeouts and nine walks in 87 PAs. 

So basically Hernandez had a monster 2014 season, a terrible 2015, and has followed that up with a monster 2016. He has the same issue with lefties as Bregman. Going into the Texas League All-Star Game, Hernandez had hit .205 against lefties and .323 vs righties. Since then however - just in three weeks - Hernandez has raised his average against lefties to .257, making him a much more viable option in the future. 

Baseball Prospectus posted a scouting report of Hernandez back in early 2014, which is definitely worth your time, especially since Joey Gallo just got called up to Texas, and his writeup is right after Hernandez's. The summary, summarized:

...A player who can display all five tools in the same game and have a huge impact...the risk is tied to the hit tool, but I believe he can hit enough to allow his other tools to shine. Second-division starter for me with a chance for more if it all clicks. 

There's a lot of uncertainty at CF in Houston. Mainly that uncertainty is named Carlos Gomez. But we'll know more about Teoscar Hernandez's future in Houston as we get closer to the trade deadline, and the August waivers process. 

But in the spirit of the series, good job, Teoscar Hernandez, nice bounce-back from your 2015.