Often times, when you have a minor league pitcher that’s 23 years old, is left-handed, and has had success at every level of the minor leagues, he’s one of the top prospects on that team, if not the entire league. Well, the Red Sox have a minor league pitcher that’s all three of those, and yet gets no attention at all– his name is Chris Hernandez.
Hernandez was taken by the Red Sox in the 7th round of the 2010 draft after serving as the ace of the staff at the University of Miami for three years. Since then, he’s flown through the minors and recently became the first member of the Red Sox’ draft class of 2010 to reach triple-A Pawtucket. The lefty has had worlds of success since being drafted by the Red Sox– putting up a 10-7, 3.18 ERA season with Salem last year. This year, he’s been just as successful as he was promoted to double-A Portland, where he pitched to the tune of a 3.13 ERA, and was recently called up to Pawtucket where he’s put up a 2.16 ERA in three games (two starts).
Now, the quirk about Hernandez, as I mentioned earlier, is that he gets no attention at all. SoxProspects ranks him as the #28 prospect in the Red Sox organization and projects him as a future left-handed reliever. All of this despite the fact that Hernandez has never struggled as a starter and actually led the Portland Sea Dogs in innings pitched before his call-up. He has four pitches– a fastball, cutter, change, and curveball– and three of them are average or better, as his curveball is slurvy and doesn’t break tremendously.
There are plenty of major league pitchers that have had tons of success with three quality pitches, and I don’t see why Hernandez won’t be one of them. SoxProspects even says that “Hernandez has outstanding mound presence and composure.” Yet, in the sentence after that, it says “With sharpening of curveball, projects to be future left-handed reliever.” I really don’t understand this, I have plenty of faith that Hernandez can succeed as a major league starter as soon as next year– maybe if he doesn’t, move him to the bullpen. However, it makes absolutely no sense to move a successful starter to a limited role in the bullpen and I really hope the Red Sox understand that.