Though we've discussed him here before, David Hernandez has still yet to get his due in many prospect circles. Though drafted in the 16th round of the 2006 draft, the Orioles gave Hernandez 5th round money to get him to sign immediately. Thus far, they've been happy with their investment. The custom of using July 1st as a cut-off makes him a young 21, but he teamed with staff-mate Brandon Erbe to form a fearsome front of the low-A Delmarva rotation.
DOB: 05/13/85 Height: 6-2 Weight: 180 B/T: R/R
David Hernandez's age 21 season:
So far in his professional career, David Hernandez has lived and died by his fastball. It typically sits at 89-92 MPH, but he can dial it up to 94 MPH consistently when things are going right. He has a tendency of grooving the ball when he is behind in the count, which happens more frequently than his coaches would like. Nevertheless, Hernandez's fastball has good action and the potential to be an above-average major league pitch.
Hernandez's other pitches lag behind his fastball. His slider and changeup both offer plenty of potential, but they can be maddeningly inconsistent. Scouts tend to attribute this to his inconsistent mechanics and he has made some strides repeating his delivery. Hernandez is likely heavier than his listed 180 pounds and people within the organization pointed to his stocky build when pressed for a reason that they gave him such a heavy workload in his full-season debut.
David Hernandez will move up a rung to claim a spot in high-A Frederick's rotation in 2007. One thing to watch will be his home run rate, since Harry Grove Stadium will be less forgiving than his previous pitching environments. He also has a ways to go with his command, but the Orioles will give him another 160 innings next year to make progress. The organization sees him as a starter long-term and he has as high of a ceiling as any prospect we've reviewed thus far. Hernandez enters 2007 as a legitimate breakout candidate. It wouldn't be surprising to see him get significant time in double-A Bowie before the end of the season.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com