- Full name Teoscar Jose Hernández
- Born 10/15/1992 in Cotui, Dominican Republic
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 215 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- Debut 08/12/2016
Organization Prospect Rankings
The Astros signed Hernandez for a bargain $20,000 in 2011 and saw him quickly climb on the prospect radar. He regressed with a disastrous 2015 season, after which the Astros left him off the 40-man roster--but he went unselected in the Rule 5 draft. Hernandez went to the Astros' Dominican complex to focus on tracking breaking-ball spin and it paid off in 2016, when he slashed his strikeout rate from 25 percent to 17 percent. Hernandez went from being an easy out to an above-average hitter because he adopted a two-strike approach. He now takes or spoils tough, two-strike pitches he chased in the past. The improved approach did dilute his power slightly, but he still has above-average power to go with his much-improved hit tool. He is an above-average defender in center field and plus in the corners with an above-average arm, though he needs to improve his accuracy. With Houston aiming to win the American League West, it probably won't hand Hernandez a full-time job out of spring training. But with his ability to play all three outfield spots, he could fit as a useful extra outfielder who plays his way into a larger role.
Hernandez signed in 2011 for $20,000--or about $2.5 million less than fellow Dominican outfielder Ariel Ovando, whom he's far surpassed as a prospect. The Astros scouted Hernandez as a favor to Felix Francisco, then the team's Latin American director, whose brother-in-law was a friend of Hernandez's family. What comes up first from those who've seen Hernandez is excellent athleticism and power potential. He makes an impression with at least average raw power and serious snap in his bat thanks to strong hands. His stroke can get long, which makes swing and miss a part of his game going forward, and he likely will be an average to fringe-average hitter. He has a tendency to chase pitches off the plate. Hernandez has plus-plus speed (4.1 seconds to first base from the right side) but may slow down as he physically matures. He's an average to tick above defender with an above-average arm. The Astros laud his makeup. Hernandez is a boomor- bust prospect whose free-swinging ways could keep him from reaching his potential. He profiles in right field and likely will return to Double-A Corpus Christi in 2015 after finishing the 2014 season there.
Hernandez may not have a plus tool on his scouting report, but with average grades across the board he fits the description some scouts use as a "cheap five-tool player." A potentially average hitter with average power, Hernandez can pull the ball for home runs, but he is equally comfortable spraying the ball around the field. As he's filled out, he's lost some of his once above-average speed, but he's gained strength in return. Hernandez has solid bat speed, but he struck out nearly a quarter of the time at low Class A Quad Cities in 2013, in part because he took too many called strike threes. His arm is a tick-above-average and could work in right field, though he's better suited for left. As a solid-if-unspectacular, righthanded hitter who doesn't have enough glove to project in center, Hernandez doesn't fit the prototype for the corner outfielder, but his hitting ability and feel for the game give him a chance to exceed expectations. He'll head to high Class A Lancaster in 2014.
Houston made a splash in 2010 when it signed Dominican outfielder Ariel Ovando for $2.6 million, trumpeting the signing with a splashy press release that compared him to the likes of Cliff Floyd and Fred McGriff. But Hernandez, who signed for just $20,000 in February 2011, has surpassed Ovando as a prospect. The Astros scouted Hernandez as a favor to then-Latin American director Felix Francisco, whose brother-in-law was a friend of Hernandez's family. He showed exciting physical tools in his U.S. debut last year. Hernandez has present strength in his wiry frame, solid athleticism and excellent bat speed that make it easy for scouts to project plus power. He's susceptible to chasing breaking balls, and pitch recognition will be a major key for him going forward. He has other ways to help a ballclub, however, including a plus arm and average speed. Hernandez has played both center and right field, and he'll probably wind up in the latter position. He's a project with upside who's ticketed for a full season in low Class A in 2013.
Minor League Top Prospects
Hernandez burst on the prospect scene in 2014, when he hit .292 with 21 home runs and 33 stolen bases, but he fell off radars in 2015 when he hit .219, albeit with power and speed, at Double-A Corpus Christi. The Astros left Hernandez unprotected in the Rule 5 draft last winter, but no team gambled on his upside. Hernandez played well at Double-A and Triple-A this season, batting .307/.377/.459 with 10 homers and 34 steals, to earn an Aug. 12 callup to Houston. He owes his success to an improved hitting approach that includes more refined pitch recognition and an ability to lay off breaking balls. That allows his solid-average power to play, and he could launch 15-20 homers per year. A plus runner who is aggressive on the bases, Hernandez can man any outfield position and can be an above-average center fielder, though his plus arm also plays in right field.
Hernandez recorded a .637 OPS in the TL last season and went unselected in the major league Rule 5 draft in December after the Astros declined to add him to the 40-man roster. This year, he played his way to Triple-A and eventually the big leagues by showing a much-improved facility for recognizing and hitting breaking balls. Hernandez's power did suffer slightly from his emphasis on making contact, but it's a fair tradeoff. He is a plus runner and plus defender in center field who has the plus arm to play right field as well.
Hernandez's instincts have a ways to go to catch up with his impressive raw tools. He swings and misses frequently and struggles with recognizing pitches, but the ball carries off his bat when he squares one up. Hernandez has strength in his hands and generates good bat speed. Most of his home-run power comes to his pull side, but he can drive balls to the gaps as well. Despite his strikeout issues, he still had a strong year with league-champion Lancaster and in fact performed better in road games (.974 OPS) than home (.878). Hernandez exudes athleticism, running with double-plus speed. He gets good jumps on balls in center field and will save hits on balls hit to the gaps. He also has at least an average arm, if not plus, though many scouts project him to fill out and move to a corner.
Background: The Astros signed Hernandez to a bargain $20,000 bonus in 2011 and saw him quickly climb on the prospect radar. He regressed with a disastrous 2015 season. The Astros left him off the 40-man roster that offseason, but he went unselected in the Rule 5 draft. So Hernandez focused on tracking breaking-ball spin. He found better pitches to hit in 2016 and slashed his strikeout rate from 25 percent to 17 percent. Scouting Report: Hernandez went from being an easy out to an above-average hitter because he adopted a two-strike approach. He now takes or spoils tough, two-strike pitches he chased in the past. The improved approach did dilute his power slightly, but he still has above-average power to go with his much-improved hit tool. He is an above-average defender in center field and plus in the corners with an above-average arm, though he needs to improve his accuracy.
The Future: With Houston aiming to win the American League West, they probably won't hand Hernandez a full-time job out of spring training. But with his ability to play all three outfield spots, he could fit as a useful fourth outfielder who plays his way into a larger role.
- Dominican Republic activated LF Teoscar Hernández.