Top 50 Scouting Report:#24 Anderson Hernandez

Hernandez's defense is his best attribute

The New York Mets acquired the second baseman in a trade with the Detroit Tigers in 2004 for catcher Vance Wilson. Always known for her superb defense, Hernandez bat came alive in the second half of the 2007 season and is nearing a permanent stay in the big leagues. Here is a scouting report on New Orleans second baseman Anderson Hernandez.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Anderson Hernandez
DOB: October 30, 1982
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 170
Bats: Switch
Throws: Right

Anderson Hernandez is no stranger to the pressures of straddling the final step of the minor leagues and a spot with the big league club. 2007 was the third straight season in which Hernandez made an appearance at Shea, but despite the promotions there are still aspects of his game scouts want to see mature.

In 2006, he spent more time at the highest level than ever before when he appeared in 25 games and compiled 66 at-bats. However, it was painfully obvious that Hernandez simply was not ready for the challenges of Major League pitching. He hit a paltry .152 [10-for-66] with three extra-base hits and 12 strikeouts before a back injury returned him to Triple-A. Previously known as a sturdy contact hitter, the organization wanted to see greater consistency from the second baseman.

Hernandez got off to a very slow start last season, hitting just .225 in through the first two months with minimal production atop the New Orleans lineup. Coming off a previous season in which he hit .249 with zero home runs in 102 games at Triple-A Norfolk, such a slow start with the Zephyrs last season was disconcerting to say the least.

But the coaching staff was willing to let Hernandez work through his troubles because of his ability to help his squad in other ways—namely defense and speed. With enough time, the 25-year-old turned his fortune around in the second-half of the Pacific Coast League season. He offered balanced production from both sides of the plate, a trait which has been foreign to him in the past, as his post-All Star Break average surged past .300.

Unlike any other point in the season, Hernandez was finally the leadoff weapon his team needed as it hung onto its division lead en route to the playoffs. He frequently notched multi-hit games and became a catalyst for the offense. These are the signs the organization hope will remain as he gears up for the upcoming season so that he can be a viable backup to the recently resigned Luis Castillo.

Over the long term, Hernandez will not achieve an average like the .343 clip he posted after the break, but his rise may be a sign that he is ready to take on big league pitching full time. His past with the Mets is a shaky one because of an expanded strike zone and lack of preparation for the opposing pitching, but if he can keep a consistent short swing, he should offer more than what he showed in 2006.

His plus defense and quickness on the bases, combined with occasional home run power will let him crack the big league roster sooner rather than later; it is just a matter of what capacity. Although his offense requires more consistency from the left side of the plate, his speed down the line and growing ability to make frequent contact should make him more comfortable against Major League pitching in the near future—possibly as soon as 2008.

No matter what, this upcoming spring will bring a significant opportunity to Hernandez. He will head to Spring Training in full control of his destiny this season. If he performs to the hopes of the organization, he should leave the farm behind once and for all. He is very close, but it will take that last push for him to stay over the top.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2007

New York

.333

3

1

0

0

1

0

0

1

.333

.333

2007

New Orleans

.301

554

167

5

42

84

16

31

82

.339

.397

2006

New York

.152

66

10

1

3

4

0

1

12

.164

.242

2006

Norfolk

.249

414

103

0

23

44

15

21

70

.285

.295

2006

St. Lucie

.111

9

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

.111

.111

2005

New York

.056

18

1

0

0

1

0

1

4

.105

.056

2005

Norfolk

.303

261

79

2

30

34

24

22

46

.354

.379

2005

Binghamton

.326

273

89

7

24

46

11

14

58

.360

.462

2004

Erie

.274

394

108

5

29

65

17

26

89

.326

.376

2004

Lakeland

.295

122

36

0

11

20

7

6

26

.326

.377

2003

Lakeland

.229

380

87

2

28

47

15

27

69

.278

.295

2002

Lakeland

.259

410

106

2

42

52

16

33

102

.310

.339

2001

Lakeland

.190

21

4

0

1

2

0

0

8

.190

.286

2001

GCL Tigers

.264

216

57

0

18

37

34

13

38

.303

.389



Batting and Power: After hovering around .240-.250 during the first half of last season, Hernandez's batting average exploded after the All-Star Break allowing him to finish at a .301 mark. That number is inflated from what he will hit at the next level, but he should remain in the .270-.280 range with respectable gap power and a sneaky home run threat. He did add some power this season, but figures to be a single-digit home run guy at the next level. He is best served when he splits the outfielders and uses his explosive speed to take extra bases. Though he is a switch hitter, he is stronger from the right side of the plate.

Base Running and Speed: Hernandez improved his true base stealing ability last season, but benefits more from his natural speed than a skilled knowledge of stealing bags; He has the wheels to surpass 20-plus steals at the big league level. He has made some strides when it comes to reading pitchers and his first step, but could still benefit from further work to raise his 60 percent efficiency. His burst out of the batter's box makes him a valuable bunter.

Defense: The one unquestioned area of Hernandez's game is his tremendous glove. He can chase down just about any ball to either side and make nearly every throw thanks to a terrific, accurate arm. His error total was higher last season than in previous years, but his solid defensive mechanics and relaxed hands has afforded him the trust of his pitchers. He can earn a spot on a big league roster simply from his defense.

Projection: The rise in Hernandez's contact hitting and power bodes well for his future at the big league level. If he can maintain production that mirrors his statistics over the second half of last year's Triple-A season, he should be able to snatch a backup role with the Mets, but that future will be determined by his ability to adjust to Major League pitching. Even if his offense regresses, that should not prevent him from earning a spot with the Mets as a reliable utility middle infielder.

ETA: N/A. For the third season in a row, Hernandez made a brief stay with the Mets, but for only four games and three at-bats last season. Nonetheless, he will be in direct competition for a spot on the Mets roster and should be high on the list of farmhands to make the Opening Day roster outright. If he does not, he will return to Triple-A and should return to Shea rather early on in the season in case of injury or as a bench player.

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