Yesterday the Houston Astros promoted outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to the major league roster. We’ve talked about him many times but he still qualifies as a rookie for 2017. He was in the headlines this morning due to a collision with Jose Altuve yesterday, more on that in a moment. Let’s review his profile.
The Astros signed Hernandez in 2011 from the Dominican Republic for just $20,000. His track record is inconsistent but when he’s going well he produces power, batting average, and speed, notably in 2016 when he hit .307/.377/.459 in the high minors.
Hernandez ranked ninth on the Houston Astros Top 20 prospects list heading into the 2017 season with the following commentary:
9) Teoscar Hernandez, OF, Grade B-/B: Age 24, signed out of Dominican Republic in 2011; hit .307/.377/.459 between Double-A and Triple-A with 34 steals, 10 homers; hit .230/.304/.420 in 100 major league at-bats, 11 walks, 28 strikeouts; fun player to watch due to speed, arm strength, flashes of impressive power; track record is very erratic as his feel for the game comes and goes; very good glove; makes a nice matched set with Fisher and Laureano. ETA 2017.
Hernandez didn’t have a great spring training, hitting .222/.211/.361 with eight strikeouts and zero walks in 36 at-bats, an example of what happens when he doesn’t have the strike zone locked down. He’s been productive so far in Triple-A this spring, hitting .250/.358/.571 with nine walks and 12 strikeouts in 56 at-bats, expressing what he can do when he’s keeping his approach in gear.
Breaking pitch recognition seems to be the biggest factor here. Sometimes he can read it, sometimes he doesn’t. This has improved compared to a couple of years ago when he hit just .219 in Double-A, but I don’t think he’s completely over the hump yet.
As for his defense, Hernandez has the speed, arm, range and instincts to play all three outfield positions but seems ideally-suited for right field. Unfortunately his defense got all the attention yesterday after he collided with Jose Altuve in a play that should not have happened:
Hernandez was carted off the field with a left leg injury, diagnosed as a left knee contusion.
Assuming he is OK physically, the basic profile hasn’t changed for Teoscar. He has all the tools in the world, but don’t expect high batting averages, at least not consistently, and his OBP is likely to oscillate between respectability and inadequacy. Given his age at just 24, he could still turn into a highly productive multi-category player.