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Jonathan Hernandez Firsthand Report

A closer look at the 22-year-old Frisco righty

MLB: Texas Rangers-Media Day Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Hernandez is a 22-year-old right handed pitcher currently pitching his first full campaign at the AA level and his seventh professional season after being signed by the Rangers out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. Hernandez is listed at 6’ 2” and 175 lbs and looks to be slightly shorter and around the same weight as what he’s listed. Hernandez is long-limbed and possesses a lean build and no visible bad weight. His frame looks as if it still has some room to add significant good weight, though at his age it doesn’t seem particularly likely that this will occur. He demonstrates good traditional athleticism and explosiveness on the mound along with solid body control.

Hernandez throws from a low three-quarters arm slot out of a stretch-windup hybrid. He possesses a fairly clean arm action and a rotational, cross-fire delivery that features some effort as his arm comes across his body. Hernandez works with a four-pitch mix consisting of a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. His fastball sits 93-96 and touches 97 and at times features good arm-side run. While he generally controls the pitch, he has below-average command of the pitch, often leaving the pitch up and over the plate and missing his spot to both sides of the plate. Hernandez throws his slider at 85-88 and occasionally touches 89 with the pitch, and his slider features sharp dive with some cut. He shows generally good feel for the pitch, though he sometimes leaves it up in the zone where it flattens out, and it projects as a plus major league offering. Hernandez’ curveball comes it at 82-84 and flashes above-average depth with some two-plane action. Although he currently demonstrates inconsistent feel for the pitch, at times hanging it up in the zone with less depth, the curveball projects as an above-average future offering. Finally, his changeup comes in at 84-86 and flashes solid fade and some tumble. He typically has good arm speed deception but occasionally slows his arm when he throws the pitch, and he currently has inconsistent feel for the changeup, as it often doesn’t possess much tumble or fade. It projects as an average or better major league offering with refinement.

Hernandez is a relatively quick, determined worker who competes fiercely on the mound, angrily battling opposing hitters. He generally works off of his fastball and slider early in counts but isn’t afraid of mixing in his other two secondary offerings early. The fastball is effective early when he keeps it away from the center of the plate, but hitters can drive the pitch when he leaves it over the center of the plate. The slider generates consistent swings and misses early in counts when he keeps it down and away from opposing hitters. Later in counts, Hernandez works with his entire arsenal, but he predominantly relies on his slider to create swings and misses and weak, ground ball contact. Each of his pitches can help him get outs when he keeps them down and away from the center of the plate, but his tendency to miss his spots and leave his arsenal over the plate leads to hard contact.

Jonathan Hernandez currently profiles as an inefficient #5 starter or as a good seventh inning reliever who can pitch leverage innings on a major league roster. His plus fastball and slider combined with his two other solid secondary offerings should allow him to succeed in those roles by keeping opposing hitters off-balanced despite his well below-average command. If Hernandez never makes any improvements to his command and never improves his feel for his secondary offerings, his arsenal could play down even further and would fit better in a swingman or situational relief role. However, if Hernandez’s command improves more than it currently projects, he could profile as a #4 starter or better on a first-division major league club.