Marco Hernandez Returning to Form in Minors
The Boston Red Sox second basemen are finally starting to get healthy. Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez are back in the majors while Dustin Pedroia is slowly starting to rehab in Portland. With all this good news, it’s easy to overlook the return of Marco Hernandez. Hernandez had a brief stint of major league success back in 2016 but has suffered an absurd amount of bad injury luck over the past two seasons. He’s finally healthy and is tearing the cover off the ball with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and High-A Salem Red Sox.
Marco Hernandez Making a Strong Return
For those who don’t remember, Marco Hernandez was a utility infielder on the 2016 Red Sox who primarily suited up at second base. The then-23-year old appeared in 40 games while posting a .294/.357/.373 slash line and a 97 wRC+. He was never going to be the second baseman of the future but he offered a decent bat with the ability to play multiple positions along the infield.
Unfortunately for Hernandez, he never had the chance to build off his successful rookie season. The utility infielder played just 21 games in 2017 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. The lefty was expected to return for the 2018 season but underwent yet another surgery after aggravating his shoulder in spring training.
After two years on the mend, Hernandez is now working his way back, and the results are starting to speak for themselves. In 30 minor league games, Hernandez is posting a .319/.370/.469 slash line with an accompanying 128 wRC+. While some of that success is due to a .340 BABIP, there’s no denying that Hernandez is seeing the ball well and making great contact. He’s striking out on just 11% of his at-bats, which is astonishing considering his prolonged absence from the sport.
So What Comes Next?
Hernandez is hitting at a major league clip, but it’s still too early to send him up to the majors. He spent the majority of his minor league rehab assignment with the High-A Salem Red Sox and needs time to adjust to more advanced pitching. Hernandez has played nine games with the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox and currently has a .371/.361/.657 slash line with a 148 wRC+. This is obviously great, but he needs to do it for more than nine games.
Additionally, Hernandez has nowhere to go on the major league roster. Michael Chavis is a star and will be the primary second baseman moving forward. Brock Holt should return from the injured list, and his experience easily puts him ahead of Hernandez on the depth chart. Additionally, the Red Sox also have Eduardo Nunez, who has no options remaining.
For now, the best thing for Hernandez and the Red Sox is to keep the utility infielder in the minors. Should injury strike again, either Hernandez or Tzu-Wei Lin should be the first guy promoted, depending on Lin’s health status.
Looking ahead to 2020, the Red Sox should let Hernandez and Lin battle it out for Holt’s spot on the roster. Holt is in the final year of his contract and the Red Sox could save some money by letting Holt walk and using the rookie contracts of Hernandez and Lin to fill his role.