Jonathan Hernandez has been promoted to AA and will make his debut in Frisco on Monday night. He’s on the big league 40-man and he’s been on the prospect radar for a minute, but he’s had a breakout 2018 thanks to the driving factor for (nearly) all successful starting pitchers: stuff. Jon’s stuff is up this season. He’s a 4-pitch fella and by all accounts, all 4 pitches are better this year. And that’s the key. That’s why there may be some magic happening here. Big league hitters are freakishly good and to get those freaks out, you gotta not only know what you’re doing, but you gotta have something in your bag that is just as freakishly good. And that’s stuff.
For the bulk of Jon’s minor league career, he’s looked like a dude, but folks were unsure if that meant starting dude or relieving dude. The FB has always been fast and remains 93-96 T 98, but it was kinda hittable at times. Now it wiggles and runs. The SL was sometimes soft, now it tilts and dives. The CH came out of the hand after slowing down the arm to a visible drag. Now it fades and launches from Jon’s digits at an indistinguishable armspeed. The CB has always been a pretty good pitch and it’s still a pretty good pitch. In short, Jon’s a FB/SL/CH/CB guy and depending on the day, either the CH or SL can look like a potential double-plus pitch.
Jon’s story is a bit interesting as well. A truly friendly, affable kid, he was born in Memphis, but raised in the Dominican Republic. He was born in Tennessee because that’s where his pops, Fernando was pitching in 1996 as a farmhand for the Padres. Fernando did eventually make it to the big leagues, making 2 appearances for the Tigers in 1997, before finishing his career with 2 seasons in Korea and a few more in Mexico.
Jon pitched in the Future’s Game last year and went to big league Spring Training this season, but even though he was on the radar, he wasn’t THIS much on the radar. But when the stuff ticks up, and it looks like you might have an arsenal capable of getting big league hitters out 2 or 3 times in the same game, you’re gonna pop up on THE radars. Sure, he’s added good weight, and sure he’s attacking hitters this season thanks to a more aggressive mindset, but it’s the stuff that matters. Sure there’s a boatload left for him to learn about the art of pitching and sure there’s healthy improvements he can make in command, but it’s the stuff that matters. In a year that’s seen Texas waylaid by injuries to too many of their top pitching prospects and bullpen moves for at least 2 others, Jon’s emergence this season has been the air in our sails. There are plenty of other guys starting games on the Rangers farm. At least 20 of them. But at this very moment, at this blip in time, only 1 looks to have the stuff to start under the brightest lights of them all. Jonathan Hernandez has been telling us all year, he has the stuff. So welcome to AA. Welcome to the upper levels of the minors, Jon. Hope you brought your stuff.
As Always, Enjoy Baseball!
Peep his quirky windup. Kind of a hybrid stretch-windup thingy with dancin’ feet: