Often Overlooked Teoscar Hernandez Brings Potent Bat To Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez often gets overlooked in the discussion of the powerful and dangerous Blue Jays lineup.

On a 2021 team that included the offensive prowess of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Marcus Semien and Randal Grichuck, right-handed hitting slugger Hernandez seemed to get lost in the shuffle.

Last season, when the Blue Jays won 91 games, Hernandez hit 32 home runs and drove in 116 runs. Hernandez stole 12 bases in 16 attempts and scored 92 runs. It was a career year. He made the 2021 American League All Star Team.

At 6-2, 205 pounds, the well-proportioned Hernandez takes full advantage of his entire frame to generate power in his swing.

Last year, Hernandez hit .296/.346/.524/.870 in 595 plate appearances, showing he could hit for average as well as pound the ball out of the park.

Every team would welcome a player with the breath and depth of tools Hernandez brings to the Blue Jays.

Second baseman Marcus Semien has moved on as a free-agent. He will take his potent bat and solid defense to the Texas Rangers, where he signed a seven-year contract worth $175M.

The Blue Jays will make every effort to replace Semien, but it will be very difficult.

Clearly, to this scout, Hernandez will help ease the pain of losing Semien. Hernandez is a consequential hitter with an ability to win a game with one swing of his loud bat.

About Teoscar Hernandez:

On February 17, 2011, the Houston Astros signed Teoscar Hernandez as an international free-agent out of the Dominican Republic. He received a $20,000 signing bonus, a great value for Houston in relationship to today’s international free-agent market.

Hernandez began his professional career at the age of 18, appearing in 65 games for the Astros Dominican Summer League club.

After realizing moderate success in the Astros development program, in 2015, Hernandez had a rough year at Houston’s Double-A Corpus Christi club. He hit only .219 in 514 plate appearances. It was a decline of 73 batting average points from his previous season at Class-A Advanced and Double-A, where he hit .292.

Hernandez hit 17 home runs and drove in 48 runs in 2015. That was a decline from the 21 homers and 85 runs he drove in the year before.

The Astros left Hernandez off their 40-man roster that winter, but he went unclaimed in the Rule-5 draft that December. Hernandez went to the Astros Dominican complex and worked on hitting breaking balls. The time in the Dominican Winter League paid dividends. He showed marked improvement, and it seemed to set him on a better path in his development.

However, on July 31, 2017, Houston traded Hernandez and outfielder Nori Aoki to the Toronto Blue Jays for pitcher Francisco Liriano. Aoki and Liriano are both out of baseball. At the age of 29, Hernandez is playing the type of baseball that earned him that spot as a 2021 American League All Star.

Hernandez won American League Silver Slugger Awards both in 2020 and 2021.

Hernandez keeps improving his power numbers as he gains experience and playing time.

He hit 22 homers in 523 plate appearances in 2018. Last year, in 72 more plate appearances, he hit 10 more home runs. And he drove in 57 more runs than he did in 2018.

When Hernandez really began to blossom at the bat in that 2018 season, he struck out 163 times. Making consistent contact was an issue. Last year, he struck out 148 times, showing more patience at the plate and being more selective in his approach. 

Hernandez walked only 36 times last season, but he went to the plate to drive in runs. That’s what he did, with remarkable consistency.

When first evaluating Hernandez while he was still in development with Houston, this is what this scout wrote about him: “Powerful frame with 30 home run potential at maturity. Above average speed with the ability to steal bases or take an extra base when needed. Very strong and powerful right field quality arm. More plate discipline required. Swings and misses can be expected. Power upside is real. Patience required. Could be a star.”

To date, Hernandez has not disappointed. He has shown an increasing presence in the batter’s box as he has matured and adjusted to the manner in which pitchers try to get him out.

Defensively, Hernandez has excellent range, and can be counted upon to provide quality defense in any outfield position. His most common position at this point with Toronto is right field.

Last year, Hernandez served as the Blue Jays designated hitter 11 times, and that role could be open to him more often, as the club tries to keep all their hitters fresh and healthy.

Combining Hernandez in right field with George Springer in center and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left, the Blue Jays have one of the most formidable offensive and defensive outfields in the game. 

Randal Grichuck, another power hitter on the Blue Jays roster, is very capable of playing the outfield as well. In essence, the club can mix and match between Hernandez and Grichuck in the outfield or as the designated hitter. Both offer very capable play in either role.

According to fangraphs.com, Hernandez is likely to hit cleanup in the dynamic Blue Jays lineup. That slot in the batting order should offer the slugger plenty of chances to drive in runs.

Both fangraphs and sandlotshrink.com list Hernandez serving as the designated hitter more often than not.

Regardless of where he plays on defense, if he remains healthy, powerful Teoscar Hernandez will be a fixture in the heart of the Blue Jays starting lineup. To this writer, he is one of the finest hitters in the American League.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/berniepleskoff/2022/03/03/often-overlooked-teoscar-hernandez-brings-potent-bat-to-toronto-blue-jays/