Just one year ago, Luis Hernandez was considered one of the top prospects in the Atlanta Braves organization. Fortunately for the Orioles, a few middle infielders in the Braves system moved ahead of Hernandez on their depth chart. The Braves were forced to expose him to waivers after removing Hernandez from their 40-man roster. Looking to add some athleticism to the upper levels of their system, the Orioles claimed Hernandez this October.
DOB: 6/26/84 Height: 5-10 Weight: 170 B/T: S/R
Luis Hernandez's age 22 season:
As it stands, the biggest thing that Hernandez has working in his favor offensively is his age. Although his frame offers little projection, the Orioles believe he can add enough offense to become an adequate regular. Since Hernandez's batting eye and power are marginal, at best, his offensive output will always be driven by his batting average.
At the very least, Hernandez's low strikeout rate is an encouraging indicator. The switch-hitter also hit a less ghastly .308/.328/.346 in 130 at bats against Southern League southpaws, striking out only 11 times. Hernandez has good speed, although at this point he is a danger to himself and others on the base paths. He instantly becomes one of the best bunters in the organization, which should at least put him in Sam Perlozzo's favor.
Even at only 22 years old, you‘ve probably surmised that it is not Hernandez‘s modest offensive projection that makes him a prospect. As you might have suspected, Hernandez is an incredibly gifted defender. He can make the routine play, as well as the webgems. Hernandez may be one of the better shortstops in the minor leagues, but he is also experienced at second base. In a worst case scenario, his defense should carry him to major leagues in some role.
With the depth built up for Triple-A Norfolk, Luis Hernandez will likely be given another chance at Double-A pitching. Certainly, Radhames Liz an his fellow staffmates will appreciate the added defense. People within the Orioles organization believe that Hernandez has considerable upside. Banking on his sheer athleticism, Hernandez has the upside of an old school defense-first shortstop. However, even if he improves enough to hit close to .300 in the show, which is certainly not out of the question, his limited secondary skills still project him as a utility man. Of course, the same can be said about regulars like Jack Wilson and Clint Barmes.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com