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Thoughts on Tampa Bay Rays prospect Ronaldo Hernandez

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Young catcher thriving in the Midwest League

From Minor League Ball reader Melonville:

John, would love to know your thoughts re: Ronaldo Hernandez. Having a very nice year in the Midwest.

Indeed, Tampa Bay Rays prospect Ronaldo Hernandez is having an excellent season for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in the Midwest League, hitting .316/.360/.561 though 73 games, 269 at-bats. He’s whacked 15 homers and has a 19/46 BB/K so far, highly-credible numbers for anyone but especially for a 20-year-old in the pitching-oriented Midwest League.

The Rays signed him for $225,000 out of Colombia in 2014. His performance this season isn’t exactly out of nowhere: he was equally impressive in the Appalachian League in 2017 and we had him pegged as a sleeper entering ‘18. Hernandez ranked eighth pre-season on the Tampa Bay Rays Top 20 Prospects list with this comment:

8) Ronaldo Hernandez, C, Grade B: Age 20, signed out of Colombia in 2014; hit .332/.382/.507 in the Appalachian League, playing at age 19, 22 doubles, five homers, 16 walks, 39 strikeouts in 223 at-bats; threw out 57% of runners; although not well-known on a national basis yet, Hernandez got great reviews from league observers; in other words, the scouting reports match the numbers: he has the physical tools to back this up, main flaw is need to polish receiving; don’t sleep on this guy; ETA 2021

He’s continued to mash obviously, showing increased power while maintaining his batting average and OBP against better pitching. Midwest League observers are saying very good things about his bat and the numbers back it all up at this point.

Defense remains the main concern. He has the arm strength and mobility to be a fine catcher but is still working on the finer points of receiving and blocking. He’s thrown out 35% of runners this year and has reduced his error rate but still gives up quite a few passed balls. That’s hardly unusual for his age and should improve with experience. I’m confident he can remain behind the plate.

I had him as a Grade B prospect pre-season but his easy adjustment to full-season ball boosts that to Grade B+. He’s one of the top catching prospects in all the minors.

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