The Tigers signed Hernandez out of Venezuela in 2005, and without a team in the VSL, they shipped him to the Dominican Summer League to make his professional debut. At only 17-years old, Gorkys made a solid debut, posting a .265/.357/.370 line for the DSL Tigers. Hernandez put his full compliment of skills on display as a newbie, swiping ten bases, knocking 10 doubles and four home runs, and even walking 30 times in 63 games.
After a promising start to his career, the Tigers brought him stateside in a hurry, sending him to the Gulf Coast League for the 2006 season. Gorkys wasted little time establishing himself as one of the league's premier young players. Despite being beat out for the GCL Tigers Player of the Year Award, Gorkys finished in the top ten in the league in six different offensive categories. He finished in the top ten in homeruns and slugging, but more impressively, he ranked first in the league in runs (41), hits (67), average (.327), and second in steals (20). In the end, there was little doubt Gorkys had arrived in the states on a mission; a mission to get to Detroit.
Hernandez is one of the most supremely talented players in the system, finishing second in tools to only top prospect Cameron Maybin. His most impressive tool being speed, Gorkys is an absolute burner in all phases of the game. He can fly on the bases, getting to top-speed in very short order, and he has the instincts to use his speed in a big way. Defensively, he gets good jumps on ball and can track down nearly anything hit within his zip code. His arm has solid-average strength, and above-average accuracy. As he fills out his frame, his arm could become a plus tool.
Hernandez has a knack for making consistent, hard contact, which should translate to him hitting for average routinely. He can drive balls to all parts of the field with ease, and has good line-drive, gap-to-gap power. As one may expect, Gorkys should add additional power as he matures physically. He has excellent raw strength which should translate to plenty of doubles and more homeruns down the line. His plate discipline, while advanced for his young age, could stand some improvement; and that will be one of the few things holding him back from becoming a star.
Hernandez is a true leadoff hitter and centerfielder, with a tremendous set of tools. He needs to make progress in a few areas, but as of right now, he looks poised to become a serious prospect. There is no doubt the tools are there, he just needs them to come together.
Performance Level Team AB AVG 2B HR RBI SO BB OBP% SLG% R
Hernandez hasn't experienced any significant injuries in his brief career.
Hernandez should head to West Michigan for the 2007 season, and that will serve as a significant challenge for the 19-year old phenom. He was no match for the GCL in 2006, and the Tigers shouldn't hold a special prospect back if they can avoid it. An outfield of Hernandez, Boesch, and Scram should be very exciting for fans in Grand Rapids.
The Tigers are beginning to establish a bit of a pipeline out of Venezuela, and if Gorkys experiences success in 2007, that pipeline could begin growing. The organization has fans in the region with such players as Wil Ledezma, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, and Omar Infante with the big club. That fan base has begun to translate to talented players signing; players such as Gorkys, and more recently, Carlos Cachutt and Alexis Espinoza.
Look for Hernandez to have a few bumps in full-season ball this season, but he should still perform very well on the whole. He should rack up doubles and triples in the large expanse of the ‘Caps home park, and don't be surprised if he challenges for a batting crown in the Midwest League.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.