Red Sox: Marco Hernandez can’t stop raking in Spring Training

Mar 14, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Marco Hernandez (40) looks on against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 14, 2017; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox shortstop Marco Hernandez (40) looks on against the Toronto Blue Jays at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Hernandez leads all Boston Red Sox players in Spring Training hits and is battling for a spot on the final roster.

Marco Hernandez simply can’t stop hitting this spring. On Sunday, he went 2-for-3 with two triples, a walk and two runs. He even stole home on a throw to second base just for fun.

He followed that up with a pair of doubles and runs, going 2-for-4 en route to the Red Sox’ 7-4 victory over the Orioles on Monday. Hernandez is now hitting .415 (17-for-41) with six doubles, four triples, and six RBIs. Along with his stellar .489 on-base percentage, he leads all Red Sox players with 17 hits this spring.

Playing well in spring is nothing new for Hernandez. In 2016, he hit .579 (11-for-19), with two walks and 7 RBIs in 14 games. This is a usual trend for him, but so is struggling to maintain such a level of performance once the regular season comes around. In 2016, he was hitting just .250 and receiving sparse playing time by the end of June.

However, he’s gone out of his way to prove that he belongs in the majors this season. He showed up to camp heavier, ready to provide more power and improve upon his .078 ISO from a season ago. If his ability to pick up extra-base hits at will this spring is any indication, his offseason effort is working.

Unfortunately for him, he has almost no chance at cracking the roster on Opening Day. Hernandez is competing with fellow utility man Josh Rutledge for the final spot. According to manager John Farrell, his preference for a right-handed bat to balance against Pablo Sandoval and Brock Holt makes Rutledge the leading candidate to make the big league team.

Rutledge is also a Rule 5 pick, making the decision that much harder for the team’s upper management. He needs to stay on the 25-man roster to remain within the organization, otherwise, he’s headed back to the Rockies. To stay on the roster he needs to provide something of value to the Red Sox. It’s hard to see what that is from a pure numbers standpoint, but if Farrell’s comments are to be taken at face value, his right-handed bat is enough.

So despite how well he’s played in camp, it’s likely that Hernandez starts the year in AAA. That leaves the Red Sox with a few options they can entertain.

First, and most apparent, is to stash Hernandez in the minors and wait for him to force his way up. After all, he’s picked up just 56 major league plate appearances in his career. His spring stats are phenomenal, but not enough to warrant a mandatory spot on the major league roster for such an inexperienced player. The Red Sox will continue to monitor his progress at camp and at 24 he’ll have plenty of time to force his way onto the roster at some point in the future.

The second and more exciting option is to dangle him as trade bait. He already has youth and the image of a budding player based on his spring performance on his side. He has the ability to play second, third, and short – versatility that any of the 29 other teams would value. And Farrell believes that it’s only a matter of time until Hernandez sees himself playing on a daily basis, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.

"This is an everyday player if you really start to break him down and look at what he’s capable of doing. Yet he’s in a group that’s talented, that’s deep, so finding his place is ongoing."

Given their lack of depth in the rotation, it would make sense for the club to explore options on the trade market. They’re likely to wait until the end of camp or beginning of the regular season once teams have finalized their rosters to make a decision, but there’s no doubt that all options are on the table.

Next: Should the Red Sox regret trading for Drew Pomeranz?

The 24-year old Hernandez will have the rest of Spring Training to continue building his case for a spot on the major league roster. It’ll be interesting to see which team’s roster that is, though.