Where Are They Now?: Chad Hermansen
Chad Hermansen’s son is getting to the age where he can understand what dad’s professional baseball career was all about.
“At your best, who do you think is the type of player you could have been?” Callen, 16, asked during the AL Championship Series.
“From a tools perspective,” Chad responded, “I probably had the upside of a Ryan Braun-type player. Righthanded hitter, 20-20-type guy.”
Drafted 10th overall by the Pirates in 1995, Hermansen signed for $1.15 million and sped through the minor leagues with 60 home runs in two seasons at Triple-A by the age of 21. Then his engine sputtered through parts of six big league seasons and eventually halted after 11 seasons in the minor leagues, including time in Mexico and in an independent league.
Hermansen was no Ryan Braun. In 492 big league at-bats he hit .195/.255/.329 with 13 homers and a 50 OPS+, meaning he was roughly half as productive as an average major league hitter.
Even today, 11 years removed from his playing career, Hermansen lives daily with the demons that haunt him over being a bust.
“I would be lying to you if I said I don’t struggle with it,” said Hermansen, who at age 41 is in his
seventh year as an area scout for the Angels. The haunting spirits most often reoccur when introduced to fans or to colleagues on the scouting trail.
“Inevitably, they all say, ‘Man, you were tooled up. You had it all,’ ” Hermansen said. “Of course, in my mind I know exactly what this guy is thinking: ‘What happened?’ ”
Roy Smith, now with the Mets, was a 33-year-old, second-year scout with the Pirates when he first assessed Hermansen’s talents at Green Valley High in Henderson, Nev. Smith recalls the highlights of his scouting report.
“In terms of makeup and family, he was almost too good to be true,” Smith said. “Great kid. Came from a very good baseball program there in Las Vegas. We drafted him as a shortstop. Polite. Competitor. Just a tremendous kid . . . The thing that stuck out as a player was the easy power.”
Then Hermansen got to the big leagues. Not as a middle infielder but as a center fielder.
Sources: MLB Considering Expanded Arizona, Florida Fall League
Under a plan being developed, each of the 30 organizations would send a roster of their own prospects to play at spring training sites.
Smith said Hermansen was rushed, while Hermansen said he never made the proper adjustments necessary to hit big league pitching, particularly curveballs. Others said he never got a full season with the Pirates to see if he could sink or swim before being dealt to the Cubs following the 2002 season.
Sadly, the highlight of his big league career likely was his first home run, a blast off Andrew Lorraine in 1999 at Wrigley Field with his family in the stands. He went 3-for-5 that day to raise his September callup batting average to .310. Hermansen went just 1-for-18 the rest of the way.
By the end of his playing days, Hermansen and his wife of 20 years, Bracken, were broke. These days, he admits to being like most Americans and living paycheck to paycheck with his scouting salary and her income as an artist. His greatest successes in life are his marriage and being a father to four children.
More and more, he said he recognizes that he can forever be called a former major league player. “I played
in the big leagues,” Hermansen says. “That’s pretty awesome, in and of itself.”