The Houston Astros promoted outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez to the major league roster over the weekend. He's 3-for-12 in his first three games with a home run, one walk, and four strikeouts. Let's take a look.
Hernandez is from the Dominican Republic, signed by the Astros as a free agent in 2011. His track record is erratic. He's been quite good at times (.292/.362/.535 with 21 homers and 33 steals in A-ball in 2014 for example) but had an uneasy adaption to Double-A in 2015, continuing to show power with 17 homers and 33 steals but with an uninspiring slash line of .219/.275/.375 and a 33/126 BB/K in 470 at-bats.
From the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book:
Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Houston Astros
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-2 WT: 180 DOB: October 15, 1992
2014: Grade C+; 2015: Grade B-
Teoscar Hernandez has entrancing tools: he’s fast and strong and could develop into a 20/20 player. He’s a very good defensive outfielder with a strong throwing arm and enough range for center field. He hustles and is, frankly, fun to watch. Unfortunately he has an extremely aggressive hitting approach and Double-A pitchers were able to contain him more often than not, getting him to chase crap pitches outside the strike zone. He would have a hard time staying over the Mendoza Line in the major leagues right now and his on-base percentage would certainly be unacceptably low. Hernandez shows flashes of having a better idea at the plate but can’t seem to maintain it for more than a few days at a time. That may or may not improve. I have nothing objective to back up this opinion but of all the raw tools guys with bad approaches inhabiting minor league rosters, I think this guy might figure it out eventually. Grade C+.
He's figuring it out: Hernandez hit .305/.384/.487 in 69 Double-A games this year and remained hot after moving up to Triple-A, batting .313/.365/.500 in 38 contests. He's combined for 10 homers and 34 steals with a greatly improved 45/80 BB/K in 423 at-bats thsi year.
There is a reduction in isolated power this year but his strikeouts are down, his walks are up, and he's posting a wRC+ of 133, much better than last season's 75. Reports from Pacific Coast League observers indicate that he's made progress with his pitch selection and isn't as vulnerable to chasing outside the zone as he was last year.
We'll have to see if that remains true in the majors but his progress over the last 12 months is undeniable.