The 2019 as a whole didn’t go as well as Miguel Hernandez likely was hoping that it would. The 20-year-old hit .245/.284/.337 for the Low-A Dayton Dragons in 127 games. He began the season as the Cincinnati Reds 13th rated prospect, but after struggling at the plate last season, he fell outside of the top 25.
The first four months of the season were tough for Hernandez. The best OPS he had in a month between April and July was just .623. Not once in that span did his on-base percentage top .287 during a single month. But then August happened. It was by far the best month of the season for the shortstop out of Venezuela. In 27 games he hit .318/.347/.466 with eight doubles, a triple, and a home run. The big difference maker in the month was that he began to hit the ball with some authority. His 10 extra-base hits on the month was easily the best of the season – with six in April being the next closest.
The numbers at the plate weren’t great. But there’s some stuff to like with what Miguel Hernandez brings to the plate even if the results didn’t get there in 2019. The shortstop has some good bat speed to work with. Listed at 6′ 0″ and 164 lbs. there’s still room for him to add some strength, which should help out in the future.
One of the more interesting things to see during the season was how his strikeout rate changed over the course of the season. Early in the year he was striking out far too frequently for a player who wasn’t a big power threat. But around the start of June, the strikeout rate began to drop, and it continued to improve a bit from that point forward.
The chart above starts at the 10th game of the season (just to give a sample size of some sort) and runs through the end of the year. You can see where the strikeout rate just keeps getting better before kind of leveling off just under 20% for the final month there.
The walk rate, though – it remains about the same, just about 6% for the year after reaching that point early in the season. That is one of the areas you would like to see a little bit of an improvement moving forward. While a hitter can get by with a walk rate that low, it’s usually going to have to come with big power, or a very high rate of contact. Right now, Hernandez doesn’t have either of those things. Even drawing 2-3 more walks a month would be a difference maker here.
Enough about the stuff at the plate, though. Let’s talk about what Miguel Hernandez can do in the field. At shortstop, he’s already got plenty of defensive value because he’s capable of playing the position. But he’s got the tools to be a lot better than “capable” shortstop. The Venezuelan born Hernandez has very good hands, good range, and a strong arm. Depending on which scout I’ve talked to, the reports range from above-average defender to potential gold glove caliber defender in the future when he matures and everything comes together for him.
There’s plenty to like from a scouting perspective with Miguel Hernandez. The tools are there for a quality big league shortstop with some potential in the bat. The performance hasn’t quite matched the tools yet. But there’s also some reason to think that while 2019 was a down season, that moving forward there’s plenty of reason to still believe that Hernandez has a Major League future.