Teoscar Hernandez completed a 4 1/2 year journey from rookie ball at age 18 to the Majors at age 23 by homering in his MLB debut. In all, he went 2 for 5 with a walk as the Astros beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 in Toronto.
When the underperforming Carloz Gomez was designated for assignment this week, it opened up an outfield slot. Hernandez earned the callup by putting up a .865 OPS in 38 games at AAA Fresno this season.
Hernandez joins former teammates Carlos Correa, Tony Kemp, Vincent Velasquez, Lance McCullers, and Chris Devenski as players that have all graduated to the Major Leagues from the 2013 Quad Cities River Bandits team that won the Midwest League title. He was a big contributor to that River bandits team. He batted leadoff most of the season and scored 97 runs in 123 games, and had a .763 OPS.
Players like Correa and McCullers justifiably got most of the attention back then, but players like Hernandez and Velasquez were also excellent. In the minors, players like that are the difference between an average roster and a deep, good roster.
Hernandez also has speed which helps him on the basepaths and in the field. He stole 151 bases in the minors and was caught stealing 47 times. He is projected to be a slightly above average fielder and baserunner.
Hernandez’s challenge will be in keeping his strikeout numbers down, while keeping his hard contact up. He succeeded in doing that at Fresno this season, when he had only a 15.6% strikeout rate with a slugging percentage of .500. However he has struggled with this at times. Last season at AA Corpus Christi the rate was 24.5% and back in 2013 with the Bandits it was 23.9%. Fangraphs projects him to have a 23.4% strikeout rate in the Majors.
Fangrahs had this to say about him prior to this season:
Hernandez isn’t far away from being a five-tool outfielder, with pitch recognition and plate discipline representing the only areas of improvement needed to get him there. Granted, those are very difficult skills to improve, especially as you face continuously better competition climbing the minor league ladder. He managed to cut his strikeouts in Double-A last season. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of his quality of contact, a tradeoff that was too much to put up decent numbers.
He will most likely find a happy medium between the two to keep his strikeouts somewhat in check while maintaining his ability to drive the ball. However, that puts him more in the platoon/below-average starter range, especially with his defense being fringy for full-time center-field duty.
Here is a link to video of yesterday’s home run.