With Jay Groome’s Tommy John Surgery last May likely pushing his big league debut until 2021, #4 ranked Darwinzon Hernandez has taken the reigns as the Boston Red Sox number one pitching prospect heading into 2019.
The 22-year-old showed what makes him the Red Sox top developing arm in Sunday afternoon’s victory in a Grapefruit League game over the Minnesota Twins. He struck out three over two scoreless innings to start the game.
Hernandez got his first out of the contest on the first pitch, getting Minnesota’s Ehire Adrianza to tap a 96-MPH fastball back to the mound. He followed this up by striking out Jake Cave, who swung and missed at all three pitches he saw, finally a first-pitch popup to first from Willians Astudillo.
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After starting the second inning with another strikeout on three pitches, Hernandez worked himself into a bit of a jam. After a first-pitch single to left by former Joe Kelly punching bag Tyler Austin, Hernandez walked another former Yankee, Ronald Torreyes, on four pitches.
Following a Lamonte Wade grounder to first that got the second out while allowing the runners to advance, Hernandez allowed another four-pitch walk to Adam Rosales to load the bases. Facing Luke Haley, Hernandez regained his control to strike the lefty out on three pitches to escape without any damage done.
Hernandez was pulled for Tyler Thornburg to start the third inning. In total, he threw 30 pitches in his two innings of work, although 25 of them came in the second frame, and 14 of them being outside the strike zone.
The young southpaw has always displayed the stuff necessary to be a contributor for a major league rotation, but his command is what needs to be fine-tuned in order to make the leap in ability. While striking out an impressive 134 batters over 107 innings In 2018 between High-A and Double-A, his 66 walks will keep him in Portland to begin the 2019 season.
There’s always a chance we see him with the big club as the season progresses. If he can find his control he can always be added as a weapon in Alex Cora’s war chest during the title defense. And we’ve seen it plenty of times over the last few seasons that injuries can riddle the Red Sox pitching staff. So if he continues to progress in his skill set then Hernandez definitely has a chance at throwing in Fenway this year.
With Boston’s rotation firmly set for 2019, and the reports that President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski could be looking to make a trade for a starter, Hernandez likely won’t see the big leagues this season. However, if he continues to impress during spring training, and into the regular season, he could see himself promoted to Triple-A at some point this year.