Jonathan Hernandez, the 22 year old Texas Rangers righthanded pitcher who was lights out in high-A Down East this year before moving up to AA Frisco, is one of the group of intriguing starting pitchers in Frisco that we mentioned yesterday while discussing Joe Palumbo’s AA debut. Hernandez put up a 2.20 ERA in 10 starts for the Ducks, with 77 Ks against 17 walks in 57.1 IP, earning a promotion to Frisco in June.
However, Hernandez struggled when he first got to the Texas League, and with the return of Palumbo from Tommy John surgery, the acquisition of Taylor Hearn via trade, and the performances of guys like Hans Crouse and Tyler Phillips this summer, Hernandez fell off the radar to a certain extent, with his travails post-promotion making it easy to dismiss him as someone who got exposed once he moved up. No one has been talking about Jonathan Hernandez lately, other than as someone who maybe could be a good bullpen piece.
However, over his last several starts, it appears that Hernandez has turned a corner. Last night, on the heels of Palumbo’s successful AA debut, and against that same San Antonio Missions team, Hernandez had one of his best starts of the season. Hernandez shut the Missions down over 6 innings, striking out 8 batters, allowing 2 hits and walking no one — just the second time in 22 games this season Hernandez has avoided issuing a free pass.
This is the second time in his last four starts Hernandez has thrown six shutout innings in an outing, and over his last four starts, Hernandez has put up a 1.14 ERA in 23.2 IP, with 27 Ks against 10 walks, and allowing opponents to put up a .167/.270/.244 slash line. Its an encouraging development, and hopefully a sign that Hernandez is adjusting.
There’s still work to be done on his command, and concerns that his delivery is such that he may never be able to have good enough command to stick as a major league starting pitcher. That said, the month of August has a big step forward for the young righty, and he’s definitely someone to keep an eye on in 2019 as someone who could get a look in the big leagues.