Arnaldo Hernandez Bursts Onto The Radar
Righthander Arnaldo Hernandez was supposed to make a spot start or two for Triple-A Omaha when he joined the Storm Chasers' rotation in mid-July.
Hernandez derailed those plans by pitching so well he remained with Pacific Coast League club through the remainder of the season.
"We had a need in the rotation and felt he could make that jump,” director of baseball operations Alec Zumwalt said. "It wasn’t supposed to be for the rest of the season, but things have worked out.”
Hernandez began the season at high Class A Wilmington and finished it with Omaha, where he went 5-1, 3.55 in 10 games, nine of them starts. He allowed 45 hits over 58.1 innings, holding opponents to a .210 average.
"You’re going to continue hearing about him,” Zumwalt said. "He’s had a strong year. The guy has got a plus changeup, can spin a breaking ball and he’s got a mid-90s fastball. He’s been kind of under the radar. We’ve got a number of guys who have taken big strides this year and he’s one of them.”
Hernandez tossed a complete-game five-hitter on Aug. 15 against Oklahoma City, allowing one run and no walks while striking out six. He retired 22 of the final 24 batters. The most incredible stat from that performance was he threw 97 pitches, 80 for strikes.
"It was a career night for any pitcher, when you throw that many pitches and so few balls,” Zumwalt said. "What was most impressive is how many changeups he threw for strikes.
"In the Pacific Coast League, a lot of times guys have to pitch backwards with breaking balls. This guy went pretty much fastball-changeup. The majority were fastballs. He runs it up there. He’s low-to-mid-90s in most of his starts. It is not uncommon for him to touch 96 (mph).”
The 22-year-old Hernandez hails from Venezuela and signed in 2012. At three stops this year he went a combined 12-5, 3.96 in 27 games (24 starts). He struck out 105 and walked 44 in 138.2 innings.
Hernandez will continue to work—and be evaluated for the 40-man roster—in the Arizona Fall League.
Strong Pitching Leads To A Quartet Of Titles On Royals' Farm
Although the big league team is in flux, the Royals' minor leagues are bursting with pitching prospects who helped their teams win four championships.
>> Top 2017 draft picks Nick Pratto and M.J. Melendez helped lead low Class A Lexington to South Atlantic League title. Pratto, a first baseman, hit .333 with a 1.074 OPS in the SAL playoffs, while Melendez, a catcher, posted a .974 OPS and drove in three runs in four games.
>> Righthander Brady Singer, who was the Royals' first selection in the 2018 draft, was pitching in instructional league. The Royals held Singer out of games this season because of hamstring issues that surfaced while pitching for Florida in the College World Series.