Phillies Prospect #44: Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez is a player that many fans may not have heard of - yet. He's an 18 year old infielder with loads of potential, who is hoping for a visa to the states in 2009.

Acquired: Signed as an amateur free agent in 2007
Bats: S  Throws: R
Height: 5' 10"  Weight: 150 pounds
Birth Date: May 23, 1990
2008 Team(s): VSL Phillies
Positions Played/Games: 2B (51 G), SS (2 G)
Previous Rankings: First Ranking

Batting and Power: Cesar Hernandez has pretty well developed his offensive skills and is more of a slap hitter than a guy who is going to show any power. His forte is to simply wait for a pitch that he can do something with and try to use his speed to get on base. Last season, Hernandez showed a vast improvement in being able to tell a ball from a strike and he walked more than he struck out, which pushed his on-base percentage to a robust .412 and allowed him to swipe 19 bases after stealing just six in his first season with the Phillies Venezuelan Summer League team.

Baserunning and Speed: The Phillies have taught Hernandez to rely on his speed and he has become a very savvy baserunner. In his first season, he had more triples than doubles (eight to seven) and he had just one triple less than doubles in 2008 (seven to six). So, why doesn't he have more doubles? His philosophy is to simply get on base; he realizes that with his speed, a base hit can easily put him on second if he steals the base. On the other hand, when he does hit a ball into the gap, he looks to stretch it into a triple immediately out of the box.

Defense: Hernandez spent his first VSL season playing shortstop and he just didn't have the arm to play the position. The result was that too many of his throws ended up anywhere but in the first baseman's mitt, resulting in an error. In 2008, he moved over to second base and posted much better defensive numbers and took to the position immediately. The shorter throws cut his errors way down and mechanically, he looks like he's played the position more than he actually has.

Projection: It's very likely that the Phillies will use a visa on Hernandez this year to bring him to the states. He's still just 18 years old and has some polishing to do, but he is generally ahead of a lot of other players his age and some work with the Phillies coaches in the states would likely help him to develop quicker than another season in the VSL would. It figures that he'll start the year in extended camp and then join a short-season team in June. Which team and whether or not he gets to move up a level to Lakewood at any point will likely depend on how much development he shows in the spring.

ETA: We'll know a lot better a year from now just how quickly Hernandez will move. Judging just on where he is now, it's not out of the question that he could get a small stint at Lakewood late in the year and then return there to start 2010. Either way, he's going to be a few years away, but with Chase Utley at second base, there is no reason to rush anyone through the system. Hernandez has enough time to hone his skills and make a natural trek up the Phillies minor league ladder.

Career Stats

Year/Team HR RBI AVG G AB R H 2B 3B SB SB% BB KO OBP SLG
2007 VSL 2 21 .276 54 181 32 50 7 8 6 .600 11 30 .328 .436
2008 VSL 1 24 .315 60 197 31 62 7 6 19 .730 33 22 .412 .426
TOTALS 3 45 .296 114 378 63 112 14 14 25 .694 11 52 .374 .431

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