Boston Red Sox Prospects: 2022 will be the year of Ronaldo Hernandez

FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Ronaldo Hernandez of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a spring training team workout on February 21, 2021 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
FT. MYERS, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Ronaldo Hernandez of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a spring training team workout on February 21, 2021 at jetBlue Park at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /
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2022 will be the year of Boston Red Sox prospect Ronaldo Hernandez

The Boston Red Sox added Ronaldo Hernandez in a savvy trade that once again shows just how good Chaim Bloom is at building up a farm system. Boston sent two pitchers who didn’t produce for them in 2020 (Jeffrey Springs posted a 7.08 ERA and Chris Mazza posted a 4.80 ERA) to the Tampa Bay Rays. In exchange, they got a phenomenal catching prospect in Hernandez and a sneaky-good prospect piece in Nick Sogard.

Hernandez quickly went to work trying to prove Boston smart. The right-handed hitter slashed .284/.326/.501 with 58 RBI and 45 runs scored. He also mashed one triple and 16 home runs, to go along with a new career-high of 29 doubles.

And it gets a lot more impressive from there. First of all, Hernandez did all this despite appearing in just 99 games (363 at-bats). Those numbers are much lower than either of his last two seasons in the Tampa Bay organization. Then you could add the fact that he really picked up the power production after a shortage the first few months of the season.

Finally, Hernandez came into the year never playing past High-A. He put up those elite numbers in 2021 despite playing in Double-A for most of the year. The only reason it wasn’t the full year in Double-A is because Hernandez was called-up to Triple-A to finish out the season. He didn’t shrink from the challenge either, going 9-for-27 (.333) with three of his doubles and five of his RBI in the time.

So what makes 2022 so special? This one is pretty easily honestly.

First of all, Hernandez has proven he’s fine in the system. The new organization and new levels didn’t phase him. Now he’s just one step away from the Majors.

In 2022, Hernandez will start the year in Triple-A. He’s the next-man-up too. If someone gets hurt (unless maybe it’s right at the start of the year) Hernandez will be getting the call. If he’s playing well (and especially if someone is struggling in the Majors) he’ll be getting the call.

It’s easy to forget because he had some big moments in the playoffs, but a lot of fans were ready to move on from Christian Vazquez last year. His defense took a sharp dive and he wasn’t providing much with the bat. Kevin Plawecki was much better offensively, but his defense was even worse than what Vazquez was providing.

The Red Sox definitely need to start thinking about the future at the position, and Hernandez has one of the strongest cases (with Kole Cottam not far behind) going for him. Seriously, how fun would a Hernandez-Cottam duo be? Let’s have two insanely talented catchers and just have fun. They could DH on their days not behind the plate too. I think I’m onto something here.

He’s good defensively with a strong arm (don’t tell me about his caught stealing numbers please, if you actually care about caught stealing numbers in the minor leagues I don’t know what to tell you – but stop doing that). Meanwhile, Hernandez is proving to be an offensive juggernaut at the position.

In 2022, I expect to see a lot more doubles. A strong batting average and maybe he can work on his eye a bit (if there’s one negative to his game it’s his eye, having drawn just 12 walks last season) too.

All that will lead to Hernandez getting more and more attention from the media and the fans. Most importantly though, it will make him an intriguing option for the Major League club. If the Red Sox notice their catching isn’t doing much, or if an injury occurs – it could be time for a switch at the position.

So why will 2022 be a great year for Ronaldo Hernandez? It’s pretty simple – he’s going to be making his Major League debut for the Boston Red Sox. And he might be there to stay.

Next. Red Sox: Predicting Boston’s 2022 Opening Day staring lineup. dark