HT: 5-10 WT: 180 POS: SS
Bowie Baysox - (101 G, 397 AB, .244/.276/.312)
Signed out of Venezuela by the Atlanta Braves in 2000, Luis Hernandez was acquired off of waivers by the Orioles in October 2006. He once ranked as one of Atlanta's top prospects, bu they lost patience after his bat appeared to stall out in double-A. Although he's been hitting poorly at that level for three years now, Hernandez is still only 23 years old.
The most that can be said about Hernandez's offensie ability is that he does all the small things well. He can hit and run, bunt, and steal a base if the pitcher isn't paying attention. He's more effective hitting from the right side, but he has very little secondary skills to speak of. He's the type of hitter that has to hit ~.300 to have any value at all, yet he's hit .250 in three years at double-A.
What Hernandez lacks at the plate, he makes up for in the field. He has terrific range and actions at shortstop to go with his plus arm strength. If you put him in the major leagues today, he'd be an above-average defensive shortstop with sure hands and good field generalship. Though he's not as fast as many middle infielders, he compensates wih great instincts. The Baysox coaching staff described him as a guy that you want the other team to hit the ball to in critical situations.
Although the Orioles believe there may be more life left in his bat, Hernandez might already be a finished product. The overwhelming odds are that he will never hit enough to be an effective regular. However, that's not to say that he doesn't have any value at the major league level. With Miguel Tejada on the trading block, Hernandez might be the best internal candidate to replace him. At the very least, his presence should make Orioles pitchers happy for years to come.
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via e-mail at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com