Prospect Countdown #40 : Brian Hernandez

Top 100 Los Angeles Angels' Prospects Countdown, #40 : Third Baseman, Brian Hernandez (photo : Robert Payne)

Brian Hernandez, Third Baseman/First Baseman

HT : 6'1
WT : 205
DOB : November 25, 1988 (27), Sylmar, California
Throws : Right
Bats : Right
School : University of California-Irvine (Irvine, CA)
Acquired : Drafted in 27th Round of 2011 MLB Draft
Last Year's Ranking : #29


Every organization has a special player who can have a larger impact but is held back for whatever reason it may be. In the Los Angeles Angels system, there's Brian Hernandez. Hernandez has all the tools to play and compete at the highest levels, even possibly, as a Major Leaguer, but is stuck in the rut of a depth chart. As he sees names pass him up on the depth chart, it's a challenge to see why the team doesn't allow him the opportunity to join another team and show he's a Major League product, but for now, he's just a promising gem that's truly hidden in the lurks of the Angels system - mistreated.


SCOUTING REPORT:

One of, if not the highest, mark on Hernandez's scouting report is that he's seen plenty of time in the field and at the plate. This not only gives him a strong understanding of the game, but also puts him in a leadership role for the younger players he plays with. He's a large voice in the clubhouse and on the field, putting his heart of his sleeve. Young players and coaches have given Hernandez high marks for his leadership and ability to take a player, putting him under his wing, and helping coach them to higher levels.

Hernandez is a professional hitter who knows how to work a count in his favor and capitalizes on pitcher’s mistakes. He takes a strong mental game plan and approach to the plate with him to the plate using his wits as an asset. One of the premier situational hitters in the system, there is not a game plan that Hernandez hasn't played out and seen - and succeeded in. He has an up the middle approach and uses his lower half to drive, and swing through the ball for gap-to-gap power.

Though his numbers have been dulled over the last few years by the Texas League, Hernandez has some good pop behind his bat. Most of this comes from his lower half, and driving force, but he has a strong frame, which allows for adequate pop off the bat. He has good bat speed, which also allows him over the fence power.

Defensively, Hernandez is one of the premier corner infielders not just in the Angels system, but throughout the minors. He has an above-average arm, (high 80's to low 90's when he pitched as a positional player), with extremely keen accuracy. He is smooth and fluid with his defensive mechanics, beginning with swift foot work. He is not afraid to get dirty and leaves it all on the field every night.

Hernandez isn't the quickest of runners, but is nowhere near being called "slow." He has the ability to take a base here and there, and will leg out doubles and triples when the opportunity arises with ease. This is the poorest state of Hernandez's overall game, and still registers around average.

Hernandez has the mental and physical tools to contribute to a big league ball club, he just needs the opportunity to do it. You will be hard pressed to find someone with a harder work ethic than Hernandez; from extra field work, watching video, time in the cage, etc. Given the opportunity, Hernandez could play out as a near league average player or better at the Major League level.

VIDEO : Minor League Baseball

Scouting Report from Jerry Espinoza - Photographer/Scouting Analyst for Scout.com


STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN:

Hernandez kicked off his professional career as a piece for the Angels, moving around between three affiliates after being drafted. When all was said and done, he'd gone from Rookie Ball to High-A, and saw a slash of .233/.287/.332 with 20 RBI and 18 runs scored in 54 games. His best stretch came in his final 17 games in Rookie Ball, where he saw a .316 average and .804 OPS.

Jumping onto the scene in 2012, Hernandez split time between High-A and Double-A, finishing the season with a .271/.340/.340 slash, with 52 RBI, 24 extra-base hits and 48 runs scored. He began the season seeing a .307 average and .753 OPS in his first 50 games in High-A. 25 of his 65 games in High-A went for multiple hits, including six straight, finishing with a four-hit game.

Hernandez once again returned to High-A the following season, and once again, posted strong numbers, batting .294/.358/.400 with 32 doubles and 80 RBI, nearly topping the Angels system statistical charts. In his final 75 games, Hernandez boasted a .332/.409/.455 slash, collecting 21 doubles and 40 runs scored.

To the dismay of many, Hernandez returned to High-A for a fourth consecutive season, and spent the first month of the season there. He was soon promoted after only holding a .543 OPS, and took the Texas League by storm, nearly winning the batting title with his .308 average and .774 OPS. No stretch in Hernandez's career matched August of 2014 where he hit .364/.458/.535.

Last season, Hernandez couldn't match his excellence the season prior in Double-A, but managed to be near the team lead with his .250/.302/.349 slash with 27 doubles, eight home runs, 77 RBI and 59 runs scored. He did once again though, kick things off with a bang, seeing a .321/.361/.431 slash in his first 30 games.

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EXPECTED FUTURE:

It would make little to no sense for Hernandez to return to Double-A in 2016, which should mean a starting role in Salt Lake. Whether that will be third base or first base will be the question, but there's nothing left for Hernandez to prove in Double-A.

Hernandez likely should have seen time in Triple-A last year, but fell victim to the depth charts. There's still names ahead of him, but he seems ready to leap frog names and be a Major League call up by season's end next year. As stated above, Hernandez plays out as a Major Leaguer, and more than just a bench piece.



For more updates on the Los Angeles Angels, their prospects, and our Top 100 Prospects Countdown, follow us on Twitter, @AngelsOnScout. Keep up with our countdown on Twitter with the hashtag, #LAATop100Prospects.

This article was published by Taylor Blake Ward, who serves as a Senior Publisher for Scout.com, and can be found on Twitter, @TaylorBlakeWard.



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