Position: Second Base
Bats/Throws: Both / Right
Birthday/Age: May 23, 1990 (22)
Ht/Wt: 5' 10", 175 pounds
How he became a Phillie: Signed by the Phillies as an international free agent in 2006.
Defense: Hernandez has good instincts at second base, even though that's not where he originally started his career. Initially, he was a shortstop and the Phillies even considered playing him in the outfield, because of his speed and strong arm. Hernandez immediately settled into playing second base and has been there since 2008 when he started playing to position full-time. His arm is strong and his speed comes into play, although he doesn't have the greatest of range, which is one of the reasons he was moved out of the shortstop role. It's not out of the question that the Phillies could have him move back on occasion, to make him a little more versatile and give him a refresher course on the position, but when all is said and done, Hernandez' best spot is at second base.
Scouting Report: When he was in the lower ranks of the minors, Hernandez made more contact than he has since reaching Clearwater in 2011, when his strikeout rate jumped from one strikeout per every 10.6 plate appearances at Williamsport to one every 5.6 plate appearances at Clearwater. Last season, Hernandez did slightly correct the problem, striking out once in every 7.4 plate appearances, but it's still a little high based on his power numbers, which aren't much. Keep in mind that Hernandez is still only going to turn 23 during the season, he skipped Lakewood and he didn't have a full season under his belt at Double-A before the Phillies moved him along to Lehigh Valley last season. In other words, he's very young and could still cut down on his strikeouts.
As we mentioned, power is not how Hernandez plays the game, but he's been a .290 hitter with a .345 on-base percentage during his minor league career, so he can get on-base and has some speed to make things happen from that point. He's got an overall success rate of 71% on stolen bases in the minors, but as he learns to read pitchers better, he'll increase that slightly to make him even more valuable. While the power isn't there to take the ball out of the park, Hernandez uses what power he does have and combines it with his speed to be able to notch doubles and triples to the gaps and down the lines.
Ceiling: Hernandez is still pretty young and could continue to get better. He should be able to play second base on an everyday level in the majors after at least one full season at Triple-A. While he's not likely to necessarily become an every year all-star caliber player, he could carve out a nice career in the majors and maybe make an appearance or two in all-star games. If his development doesn't continue, he's going to need to show versatility and be able to play at a couple different positions to make himself more valuable.
ETA: It's good for Hernandez that he is so young. While Chase Utley is only signed through this season, Freddy Galvis would seem to be wearing the heir-apparent label for second base. If Hernandez has a big season, he could set up a battle for the job with Galvis if Utley is allowed to walk and not finish his career with the Phillies. Otherwise, he could become the next Freddy Galvis and get in line for when Jimmy Rollins' contract runs out following the 2014 season - or 2015 if his option year is either picked up or vests - and Galvis could then move back to shortstop and Hernandez could take over at second.
Cesar Hernandez' career stats