2013 Cubs Prospects Review: Marco Hernandez

Corey-BlackMarco Hernandez is 6-0, 170 pounds. He was born September 6, 1992 in the Dominican Republic and currently plays shortstop. The right-hander bats has been known for his defense and is a switch hitter. The Cubs signed Hernandez during the July 2009 international signing period. He was signed on July 17th and was not included in Baseball America's Top 25 international prospects. I can't seem to find for how much his signing bonus was, but a betting man would say "not very much."

Performance

Hernandez signed just a couple months before his 17th before so was unable to come to the US like most international prospects. He didn't arrive in the US until the 2011 season. He played in 51 games in rookie league that year and had an impressive .384 wOBA (120 wRC+) over 233 plate appearances. He only had 2 home runs, but he added 16 doubles and 5 triples. As a result, his was .152.

In 2012 the Cubs moved him to Kane County (A level) at the start of the season and that turned out to be a disaster. Hernandez had only a 53 wRC+ and his strikeout rate jumped from 12.4% in 2011 to over 23%. After 171 awful plate appearances, he was demoted to Boise (A-) and his numbers were about average (104 wRC+), but he showcased a 3.5% walk rate over 283 plate appearances. The organization then moved him back to Kane County at the start of this season.

Hernandez was fairly well thought of entering the season by some scouts. I was always a little concerned. He struck me as the typical player with no power and little ability to get on base that I didn't think his position would end up mattering. This year he didn't prove otherwise.

In 443 plate appearances he hit .254/.287/.338. His wOBA was only .289 and his wRC+ just 75. Darwin Barney might be able to play spectacular enough defense to get by with numbers that bad or worse, but there probably aren't that many.

His walk rate was 3.6% this year and he struckout in 16.3% of his plate appearances. He had just 4 home runs and added only 17 doubles and 3 triples. His ISO, for those who can't subtract AVG from SLG, was .084.

Needless to say, he did not have a good season and has yet to solve the full season league.

Scouting

Hernandez puts the ball in play for the most part, but has struggled with strikeouts so it's something to watch moving forward. He plays above average defense at shortstop and of all the shortstop prospects the Cubs had entering the season, scouts believed he had the best chance to stick permanently. The front office liked Hernandez well enough when they took over that they actually sent him to the full season league at Kane County and put left Javier Baez back at Arizona. Now Baez is tearing up AA and Hernandez just finished a below average season at the same level he began last year.

He lacks plate discipline too, which is of course no good.

Some scouting reports from the experts published prior to the season are below.

18) Marco Hernandez, SS, Grade C+: Defense gets strong reviews and he's got a chance to hit, too. Hernandez/Candelario/Amaya is a hell of an infield for Low-A in '13. – Sickels

It was Hernandez and not 2011 first-round pick Javier Baez who opened last season as Peoria's starting shortstop. Hernandez wasn't ready to make the jump from Rookie-ball to low Class A and didn't get his bat going until he went to Boise in June. While he can't match the tools of Baez or Arismendy Alcantara, Hernandez has no glaring weaknesses and a better chance to stay at shortstop in the long term. A switch-hitter, he has an easy swing from both sides of the plate and more pop as a lefty. His Midwest League performance aside, he makes reliable contact and should have solid gap power once he gets stronger. He'll have to improve his plate discipline and pitch recognition to handle better pitching. Hernandez has above-average speed but still is learning to make the most of it on the bases. He has the actions, quickness and solid arm required at shortstop, but he let the game speed up too much on him defensively in 2012, committing 32 errors in 105 games. He'll be better equipped to handle low Class A when he opens there in 2013. – Baseball America

Hernandez isn’t flashy in the field but he’s reliable and steady. One talent evaluator I spoke with said the Dominican Republic native “presently has a decent chance to stay in the middle infield.” I personally saw the Boise team late in the year during the Northwest League playoffs and expect to be more enamoured with fellow infielder Jeimer Candelario but came away more impressed with Hernandez. – Hulet

Hernandez likely won't be among the Cubs top 25 prospects next year and there's a strong case, in my opinion, that he doesn't belong in the top 30.

Outlook

Hernandez will probably move to High A Daytona, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to leave him at Kane County and hope to see improvement. If he can't improve next year, the Cubs are probably looking at a back-up infielder. Even as a back-up, he's going to have to hit significantly better than he's shown at his highest level so far to even get that chance. We say prospects have a "make or break year" too often, but in Hernandez's case, it is true.

2013 Cubs Prospect Reviews

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