Tampa Bay signed the power hitting Hernandez from Columbia as a third baseman in 2014, then swiftly converted him to catcher. His physical build fits the position better, and the power in his bat gives a better chance to provide impact behind the plate. Catching conversions almost always take time, and accordingly, Hernandez has a good ways to go defensively before he’s a palatable big league catcher with the glove. Even so, his offensive upside for the position makes the defense worth waiting on.
Plus raw power is the calling card, generated from quality strength in the swing and loose, quick wrists. Hernandez takes a big cut that adds length to his pre-pitch load, but there’s ample batspeed to make up for some swing-length and get the bathead through the zone. His barrel-feel is advanced, and Hernandez has above-average plate discipline, his low-walk totals more a result of aggression in the zone than expanding outside of it. Hernandez was pull-heavy when I saw him in 2017, and in this look showed better feel for the opposite field late in the count. In combination, Hernandez projects to 55 game power and a 50 hit tool, and outstanding offensive package behind the plate.
Hernandez is an average athlete and looks comfortable behind the dish. His raw arm-strength is average, though he will need to quicken his release in order for his throwing to play as 50-grade in games. The blocking skills are further along than his receiving at present, and my biggest concern with the profile is development of the framing. His actions can be grabby, and his glove drifts outside his body. The glove projects to 45, just enough to stick at catcher where his offensive prowess carries him to an everyday role. However, given the development time involved and the progression of Hernandez’s bat, I project him to split time between catcher and first base at the big league level. The offensive contribution is attractive, but because he’s likely just shy of a true full-time catcher, the defensive limitations make him a FV 50 type regular.