Red Sox may have found their future catcher in Ronaldo Hernandez
Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox continue their late surge of moves before heading into the Spring. The team has officially announced a trade with yet another AL East rival, sending left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs and right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for catcher Ronaldo Hernandez and infielder Nick Sogard.
Boston’s current catcher, Christian Vázquez, has continued to improve with age but he is not getting any younger, entering the 2021 season at 30. Especially when discussing the catcher position it is tough to have longevity behind the plate. The club does have control over Vázquez until at least 2022 but after that, the Sox could invest into getting younger.
When first glancing at this deal it may seem like an irrelevant move. However, Boston could have found a hidden gem and their future back stopper in 23-year-old Ronaldo Hernandez. Before being dealt to Boston he was listed as the Rays 14th ranked prospect.
He should spend his first two seasons bouncing around at Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester until he proves that he can play at the highest level. Hernandez has all the tools to make you think that he could be the club’s future starter.
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Early on in his career, his offensive game has impressed, which is a pleasant surprise as above-average hitting catchers are hard to come by. Since entering the Rays organization in 2015, the Columbia native has produced a career .293 batting average, 41 home runs, 218 runs batted in, and 190 runs scored. Despite being a big body at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, he managed to even swipe 22 stolen bases.
It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to stronger pitching as he has only reached Single-A. During the 2020 season, he spent most of his time on the taxi squad and he was on the Rays postseason roster pool and participated in team workouts.
He is a raw prospect with plenty of potential, although it was concerning that his numbers dipped in 2019 after a very productive 2018 campaign. In 2018, he posted a .284 batting average, 21 homers, and 79 runs batted in. In 2019, his numbers in all of those categories declined. Despite the minor dip it is still encouraging to see instant production as a hitter and impressive career numbers.
His skills behind the plate as a catcher is also something to be intrigued by. Before signing with the Rays, Hernandez was considered an infielder but made the change when entering Tampa Bay’s organization. He is known to have a rocket of an arm and is a solid catch and thrower thanks to his infielder days. In his first two seasons in Single-A, he has thrown out 36% and 39% of base stealers which is a respectable rate. He still needs to develop as a blocker but expect him to only get better with increased reps.
The Red Sox once again make another move to prepare them for the future as they continue to do it Chaim Bloom’s way. The type of production we will see from the team this year is unknown, as it is still likely for them to add one more free agent before kicking off the new campaign. Either way, the Red Sox win another deal with an AL East rival as Ronaldo Hernandez should be a name to keep an eye out for in the next two to three years.