With Lisalverto Bonilla pitching five innings yesterday, the Reds reached to AA-Pensacola for new relief, calling up Ariel Hernandez from the Blue Wahoo staff. Bonilla was sent back to AAA-Louisville.
In 7 appearances for Pensacola, Hernandez (25, RHP) has 14 strikeouts and 4 walks in 8 innings pitched. In 2016, Hernandez made 43 appearances for low-A Dayton and high-A Daytona. In 62 innings, he struck out 74 and walked 39.
The Reds selected Hernandez in the 2015 minor league Rule 5 draft from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hernandez had been signed out of the Dominican Republic by the San Francisco Giants who had released him before the D-Backs picked him up from an independent league.
He features a highly regarded fastball-curveball combination. Hernandez throws his fastball in the 97-98 mph range and reaches 100 mph. But scouts believe his curveball may be even better than his heater. The knock on Hernandez is his control.
Here’s video of Hernandez pitching for the Dayton Dragons shot by Doug Gray:
Reading material on Hernandez: Doug rated Hernandez with the fastest fastball in the organization in a March post:
Going back to the top of the list, Ariel Hernandez topped 100 MPH three times in the game. He was throwing his curveball at 88-89 MPH. Think about that for a minute. I’ll wait for you to catch your breath. He’s going to need to improve his control, but that arm…. my goodness.
Here is Doug’s detailed scouting report and review of 2016:
There are some concerns when it comes to his control and ability to throw strikes. Even in his 2016 breakout he walked 5.7 batters per 9-innings pitched. That’s a rate that’s going to have to come down in the future, but it was an enormous step forward from the rest of his career, where he’s walked over a batter per inning since he turned 18. On most nights he actually showed decent enough control, but every so often he would battle the strike zone and rack up the walks in a given outing. If he’s able to find a little more consistency, he’s got the stuff to be a closer at the big league level without question.
[While you’re thinking of the value Doug’s work provides, support him. Covering Reds minor league teams is his full-time gig.]
J.J. Cooper at Baseball America wrote this comprehensive post on Hernandez in October.
“The curveball is the thing everyone talks about. I don’t know if that’s due to the velocity in the game now or just a credit to the pitch,” Reds farm director Jeff Graupe said.
The stats back it up. Swings and misses on his curveball rank in the 95th percentile of the minors.
His fastball earns similar grades. Pitchers with two double-plus pitches are extremely rare. Finding ones who have been available in the minor league Rule 5 draft (where a player can be picked for $12,000 and no further questions asked) is almost impossible.