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‘Stro Wars: A New Hope: Houston’s Teoscar Hernandez Avoids Oblivion
- Updated: June 29, 2016
So far, the tale of Teoscar Hernandez has had two possible outcomes, in the style of that series of game-books, Choose Your Own Adventure, wherein readers are given various options of how the protagonist interacts within the plot.
Signed by the Houston Astros as a non-drafted free agent on Feb. 17, 2011, out of the Dominican Republic, a promising 2014 turned into a demoralizing and humbling 2015, and choices had to be made, not only by Hernandez, but by the Houston brass.
There’ll be more to the Teoscar Hernandez story, but as of late June, 2016, the ladder to the big leagues isn’t missing any steps for the 6’2″, 180-pound speedster.
Sunday, June 26, the Houston organization announced the promotion, from Double-A Corpus Christi, of Hernandez and Hooks teammate Alex Bregman, to the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.
The two new Grizzlies will begin their new Astro chapters Thursday, June 30, joining Fresno’s Pacific Coast League team for a four-game series in Salt Lake City.
Before You Turn the Page
One more piece of business, though, before they leave Double-A play behind them: The Texas League All-Star Game. In Tuesday’s North vs South All-Star battle in Springfield, MO, the right-handed Teoscar (pronounced TAY-oscar) was the starting right fielder, leading off. His South Team prevailed, 8-5, as Hernandez went 1-for-4, with a walk and 2 runs scored.
For the record, starting South shortstop Bregman homered in his first at-bat. And, why not? He participated in the pre-game Home Run Derby. He finished the evening 2-for-3, with one run scored and two batted in.
Opening the Chapter
$20,000 brought Hernandez to the Astros in 2011, when he was 18. A little bit of power and a lot of speed are his calling card, with center and right field being possible major league landing spots. With free agency visiting two Astro outfielders at season’s end (Colby Rasmus and Carlos Gomez), a solid second half of 2016 might be Teoscar’s ticket.
Hernandez’ story starts getting interesting around 2013, with a full season at Single-A Quad Cities of the Midwest League. A penny less than 500 at-bats yielded a .271 average, with the makings of an extra-base machine emerging: 25 doubles, 9 triples, and 13 home runs, with 97 runs scored.
His strikeout rate was high (135 to 41 walks), so a need area quickly became evident.
2014 brought a promotion to Class A-Advanced Lancaster (California League), where, thanks partly to hitter-friendly ballparks, he brought in a .294 BA (in 391 ABs) with 33 doubles, 8 triples, and 17 HR, with 31 SB in 37 attempts.
He brought his strikeout to walk ratio to a near 2-to-1, with 117 Ks to 49 walks. His OPS was .925, helping to earn him a promotion to AA Corpus for the last quarter of 2014, and just 95 at-bats.
Apparently overmatched in his first taste of the Texas League, Hernandez struck out 36 times, and walked only twice. His .284 batting average helped deflect from his uncharacteristic 2 out of 5 stolen bases, 4 doubles, and 4 homers, with a drooping .773 OPS.
The Plot Sickens
As if choosing the wrong direction for his story, his 2015 sputtered out of the gate, as he hit an embarrassing .131 in April. He finished the first half of ’15 hitting .202 with 6 HR.
Only slight improvement was made in the second half, as he hit .234 with 11 HR. He finished last season at .219 with 12 doubles, 2 triples, 17 HR, and 33 stolen bases in 40 attempts, and an atrocious .637 OPS.
Keeping panic at arm’s length, Hernandez made some adjustments, particularly with his hands and bat placement in his stance. You’ve already read the All-Star results of one of the hardest-working players in the Houston system.
His diligence paid off recently in another way: Houston’s #24-ranked prospect (according to MLBPipeline.com), Hernandez is a recent spring graduate of the Astros’ English-language program. Having begun shortly after signing, his final verbal exam was administered by Houston’s farm director, Allen Rowin at Spring Training.
Anatomy of an All-Star
Hernandez earned his promotion to Fresno with his first-half Texas League season numbers (through games of June 26): A league-leading .305 average in 279 ABs (69 games), 6 homers, 29 stolen bases in 40 tries (which leads the league), and an .821 OPS. He’s second in the league in both runs scored (53) and doubles (19).
The Teoscar Hernandez adventure has begun. Crack it open.
Brad was born and raised in the shadow of what eventually became Colt Stadium, and then, in '65, the Astrodome.
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