The Cincinnati Reds called up right handed reliever Ariel Hernandez on Sunday. They optioned right hander Lisalverto Bonilla back to Louisville to make room on the roster for him.

I’ll never forget the first time that I saw Ariel Hernandez pitch. It was March of 2016 in Goodyear on the backfields. I was on a different field and saw that a new pitcher had entered the game on the adjacent field, so I came over to see who it was. Hernandez was on the back of the jersey, and I had trouble recognizing both the name and the face of the player. I walked behind the plate and the first pitch – 97 MPH. With movement. What did I just see? The pitch after that? The best curveball I’d ever seen. At 88 MPH. I turned to the scout next to me and asked who it was that I was watching pitch. “Ariel Hernandez” he said. The next pitch was another curveball and the scout dropped an audible noise over how insane the pitch was.

After the games were over that day I rushed back to the hotel to edit the video I had recorded of Ariel Hernandez and look up his past stats. That’s when I remembered that the team had picked him up in the Triple-A version of the Rule 5 draft over the winter. It’s also where I saw that his walk rate for his career was nearly 9.0 batters per 9.0 innings pitched. He had the the best pure arm I had ever seen in the minor leagues (when I saw Aroldis Chapman in the minor leagues he was starting and wasn’t throwing anywhere near as hard as he eventually would be throwing as a reliever). But the control to that point in his career simply made the pure stuff irrelevant. Here’s the video from that outing in spring training from March of 2016.

That all changed in the 2016 season. Ariel Hernandez had put in the work over the previous offseason and it started showing up early in the season with Dayton. In 18 appearances with the Dragons he dominated the Midwest League, posting a 2.59 ERA in 31.1 innings. He did walk 20 batters, a rate still higher than you’d like to see, but the strides taken forward were huge. He had 40 strikeouts and allowed just 11 hits. That earned right 24-year-old a promotion to Daytona. He didn’t miss a beat with the Tortugas as he posted a 1.76 ERA in 30.2 innings with 19 walks and 34 strikeouts.

The performance in 2016, and the vast improvements that were made by Ariel Hernandez got him added to the 40-man roster following the season. The Reds sent him to Double-A Pensacola to begin the 2017 season and he’s been dominant once again. In 8.0 innings he has allowed just one run (1.13 ERA) with 14 strikeouts. He’s lowered his walk rate in the early going, walking four batters. Two of those came in his first appearance.

Quick Ariel Hernandez Scouting Report

Fastball | The pitch is going to work 95-98 MPH and he’s touched 100 in the past. It’s got movement, too.

Curveball | As you read above, it’s the best curveball that I’ve ever seen. It’s a true 80 grade pitch that works 86-90 MPH with 12-6 breaking action.

Change Up | This pitch doesn’t show up as often, but it’s a good pitch that works in the high 80’s.

Consistency with his control is something to watch for given his history, but he’s generally been around the strikezone since he’s arrived in the Reds organization. Every so often he’ll run into problems there, but by-and-large he’s going to be close to the zone. This season he’s thrown strikes with 61% of his pitches.

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Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

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