by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The trade somewhat flew under the radar, with the Toronto Blue Jays shipping Francisco Liriano to Houston where he will operate as a left-handed reliever. The biggest storyline, for most, is the fact that the move freed up regular playing time for Derek Fisher in Houston (thanks to Norichika Aoki being part of the trade). However there’s another key piece that shouldn’t be overlooked, and that’s Teoscar Hernandez heading to Toronto.
The Blue Jays outfield is hardly a strength, with a combination of Jose Bautista, Steve Pearce, Kevin Pillar and Ezequiel Carrera manning the three spots. Bautista could be a free agent at the end of the year. Pillar has struggled mightily. Carrera is what he is, and that’s more like an extra piece.
Hernandez has the potential to step into a starting role at any time, and he’s been pushing for a promotion as he’s hit .279 with 12 HR and 12 SB over 301 AB at Triple-A. He posted a .570 SLG in July, with 10 doubles and 5 HR.
The key for him has been improving his contact rate, as he’s shown an improved number since the start of ’16:
- Double-A (2016) – 17.1%
- Triple-A (2016) – 15.6%
- Triple-A (2017) – 20.7%
Of course his 13.0% SwStr% this season does give a little cause for concern, the exact number he posted in the Majors in ’16 (112 PA). That’s something that we’ll have to continue monitoring, though he also can draw a walk and doesn’t chase outside the strike zone often (24.6% O-Swing% in ’16).
MLB.com recently described him by saying:
“in both regards, he’s doing a better job of making consistent contact (cutting his strikeout rate from 25 percent in ’15 to 18 percent last year) and tapping into his solid raw power from the right side of the plate. He has started to wait for pitches to drive, and he draws a decent amount of walks rather than getting himself out with impatience. Hernandez has plus speed and knows how to use it on the bases, making him a potential 20-20 threat.”
While power is up across the game, pairing it with speed is not always easy to find. With the Blue Jays holding an eye towards ’18, it makes sense for them to see if Hernandez can be part of the solution. Don’t be surprised if he gets a look, at some point, and when he does the potential will make him well worth adding in AL-Only and larger formats.
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
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