Jays From the Couch continue to provide Year in Reviews for Toronto Blue Jays prospects, next on the list Javier Hernandez
Next, on the list of the minor league ‘year in reviews’, we have a little known, little hyped defensive catcher Javier Hernandez.
A native of Maracay, Venezuela, Javier spent all but 5 of his 40 games in 2017 at Full season A-Ball with the Lansing Lugnuts. Hernandez is 1-of-8 Blue Jays prospects heading to the Arizona Fall League this offseason; hence, why I am doing his 2017 YIR so early.
In case you missed the earlier YIR’s I’ve already completed on Hernandez’ fellow AFL attendees, here they are and links to the articles: Max Pentecost, T.J. Zeuch, Daniel Young, Andrew Case, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
Hernandez was signed as an International Free Agent August 2012. He started his professional career in 2013 with the DSL Blue Jays. After almost two full seasons with the Dominican Summer League, he received a 6-game audition with the GCL Blue Jays to finish the 2014 season.
He played the entire 2015 with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays. As the everyday catcher for the GCL Blue Jays, Javier batted .200 with 2 doubles and 2 HR in 39 games.
Hernandez made a name for himself as a member of the Vancouver Canadians in 2016. Despite batting .215 with 10 doubles and 2 HR, he was praised for his play behind the plate. It even earned him the C’s MVP.
Javier made his season debut with the short-season A-Ball Vancouver Canadians on June 19th. His time in Vancouver was short lived as he earned a promotion to Lansing after 5 games. During those 5 games, Hernandez batted .316 with a double, two triples, and 6 RBI.
Hernandez was assigned to the Lugnuts and made his debut on June 26th. He only appeared in 3 games, batting .273 with 2 RBI.
The catching situation in Lansing was a tad crowded in July. The Lugnuts had Hernandez (15 GP), Ridge Smith (15 GP), and Andres Sotillo (7 GP) each fighting for playing time. The 21-yr-old Hernandez batted .211 with three doubles, a home run, and 5 runs batted in for the month.
Smith and Hernandez split time behind the plate for the Lugnuts again during the month. Hernandez had a solid month of August, aided by an 8-game hit streak that saw him bat .429 (12-for-28) with a .600 BABIP. Javier batted .246 with two doubles, a home run, and 3 runs batted in 15 games.
Highlight of the Year
On July 16th, Javier Hernandez went 2-for-4 with 2 runs scored, 6 total bases, a double, a home run, and 3 RBI.
The right-handed hitting catcher hit .370 in 27 at-bats off left-handed pitching while batting just .187 off right-handed pitching.
For context, Hernandez batted .189 vs. LHP (53 at-bats) and .227 vs. RHP (110 at-bats) in 2016 as a member of the Canadians.
Hernandez’ MO is that he is a defensive catcher with possible offensive projections. As a professional, Javier Hernandez has amassed 207 games behind the plate. During this time he’s allowed 199 stolen bases, catching 113, throwing out 36% of stolen base attempts. He has also allowed 54 passed balls.
In 2017, the 6-foot-1 catcher allowed 45 stolen bases and gunned down 11, throwing out just 20% of would-be base stealers. He only allowed one passed ball and finished with a .976 fielding percentage.
The Lugnuts backstop provided Lansing with below league average production at .269 wOBA and 65 wRC+ while producing below average power at .082 ISO. Hernandez strikes out too much (27.3 K%) and doesn’t walk enough (5.6 BB%). He is pull-happy, with a 53.7 Pull% while going up the middle just 22.1% and opposite field 24.2%.
Javier Hernandez batted .235 with 6 doubles, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, and drove in 16 while walking 9 times and striking out 44 times in 40 games.
When taking his inclusion to the Arizona Fall League in consideration, Hernandez will be given every opportunity to succeed in 2018. I expect, health being the wildcard, that Hernandez will easily eclipse his career high in games played (57) as he should split time with Ridge Smith in Dunedin.
Don’t expect an offensive breakout or a three level promotion year for the defensive-minded Hernandez in 2018. Slow and easy will be what fans of the Blue Jays minor league system can expect for Javier Hernandez.
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