Name: Hector Gorkys Gustavo Hernandez, Jr.
Born: September 7, 1987 (Güiria, Sucre, Venezuela)
Height: 6-0; Weight: 175; Bats: R; Throws: R
Drafted: Signed as a free agent by the Detroit Tigers (2005)
Strengths: Hernandez was one of the best athletes in the Atlanta system. At the plate he displays solid gap-to-gap power and could hit 30-40 doubles annually at the Major League level; he also has well-above-average speed that allows his to steal bases at an 83% clip and generally cause havoc when he's on base.
He told Jay LeBlanc of the Washington Post where he wants to bat: "Leadoff, like Reyes, the shortstop of the Mets. I want to do the same things - bunt, get on base and run."
Defensively Hernandez covers tons of ground in center, gets solid jumps and has a strong arm.
Weaknesses: He must continue to improve his plate discipline as he strikes out too often and doesn't walk enough for a player that profiles as a leadoff hitter. He does have solid power; but it's doubtful that he'll ever hit more than 10 home runs a season at the MLB level, and he'll have to raise that .348 OBP if he's going to be a leadoff guy.
Another potential problem: after stealing bases at an 85% rate in the minors, he's 20-of-30 in AA, and that's not good enough.
One problem he couldn't help was falling behind uber prospect Jordan Schafer in the Atlanta pecking order, and becoming trade bait for Nate the Great.
Projection: Hernandez, 21, is the most highly regarded Brave and centerpiece of the McLouth deal. He's drawn comparisons to former Pirates and Cleveland Indians center fielder Kenny Lofton because of his speed and gap power from the leadoff spot. (Of course, he's also been compared to Nyjer Morgan, so...)
Hernandez is also considered an outstanding defender with great range and a strong arm. His estimated MLB arrival looks to be late 2010, more likely 2011. Our guess is that the OF of 2011, in the suits' mind, is Andrew McCutchen in left, Hernandez in center, and Jose Tabata in right, as things sit now.
Prospect Rankings (Baseball America)
2007 - #07 DET
2008 - #92 MLB
2008 - #05 ATL
2009 - #62 MLB
2009 - #04 ATL
Other 2009 rankings: Baseball Prospectus (#78), ESPN (#88), and ScoutingBook (#94)
Awards: Played in the Futures Game and was named Baseball America's "Fastest Runner" in the Brave system (2008); Named to the Futures Game, Midwest League mid and post season All-Star teams, and Midwest MVP (2007); GCL All-Star, leading the GCL with a .327 batting average (2006).
Bio: Detroit signed Hernandez as a free agent from Venezuela in 2005, then shipped him to the Braves as part of the 2008 trade that sent shortstop Edgar Renteria to Detroit for Jair Jurrjens.
He made his professional debut in 2006 with the Rookie League GCL Tigers and earned All-Star honors after hitting .327 with five home runs, 24 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 50 games.
The Venezuelan followed that up by hitting .293 with four home runs, 50 RBI and 54 stolen bases in 2007 with the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps. He was a Midwest League Mid-season All-Star and played in the Futures Game, and went on to capture league MVP and Post-Season All-Star honors.
While missing a month with a hamstring injury, Hernandez had a down year at High A Myrtle Beach, hitting .264 with a .348 OBP. But he showed enough to be selected to play in his second consecutive Futures Game.
He's at Altoona now, after starting the season off with AA Mississippi. Hernandez is hitting a combined .303, with a .348 OBP (yah, he seems kinda stuck on that number; it's also his minor league career OBP, too).
Jose Tabata is about ready to join the Curve after rehabbing a pulled hammy. We're looking forward to the watching he and Hernandez develop together; they should be on the same track to PNC.