Selected in the 22nd round, Los Osos (Ca.) catcher Jake Hernandez was already one of the top prospects at his position due to his stout defense, but his stock continued to trend upward thanks to an outstanding season with the bat.
For the year, Hernandez hit .446 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Simply put, he didn't want to be known as a defense-only player.
"I hit five days a week, and I didn't want that tag," Hernandez said. "I wanted to prove my offensive skills to everyone."
Hernandez stood out at last summer's Area Code Games, and the Tigers got an up-close look at him when they worked him out along with several other standouts from Southern California during the spring.
"I felt strong, and I didn't want to put any pressure on myself," Hernandez said. "I had a good round of batting practice."
Heading into the draft, Hernandez was a candidate to be selected in the first five rounds, but a firm commitment to play for former Tiger Chad Kreuter at USC caused him to fall to the Tigers.
Despite the slide, Hernandez was pleased to be selected.
"It feels good," Hernandez said. "It's something I've dreamed of since I was a kid."
Getting the call came as a surprise to the USC recruit.
"There were a couple of teams, but I didn't think I was going to get picked because I plan on attending USC."
As of now, Hernandez isn't sure what his summer plans will entail, but if he sticks to his commitment, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Miami (Fla.) catcher Yasmani Grandal, who had a similar profile coming out of high school before turning it on with the bat to become a first-round pick.
"I'm pretty much set on college," Hernandez said. "I just feel like I can get my education, develop better as a hitter and improve my draft stock."