Astros: The Case for Teoscar Hernandez in 2017
Young Astros rookie Teoscar Hernandez showed flashes of promise in 2016. However, with the arrival of Carlos Beltran and others, his future in 2017 is uncertain.
Teoscar Hernandez is an exciting player. At the age of 24, he has shown glimpses of being an above average player. His rise to the big leagues was not a quick one and wasn’t without struggles. Formally seen as just an athlete playing baseball, Hernandez clearly matured and improved throughout the minors.
After struggling in Double-A Corpus Christi in 2015, hitting .219/.275/.362 with 17 homers, Hernandez improved and rebounded in 2016. He hit .307/.377/.459 in AA and AAA. When the injury bug struck the Astros late in the season, Hernandez answered the call.
Hernandez was a part of another youth movement for the Astros in 2016. Fellow prospects Tyler White, A.J. Reed, Alex Bregman, and several others all contributed. So Hernandez wasn’t the first to arrive.
The outfielder played decently, showing range in center field and hit for some pop, hitting four home runs. At times he looked like a rookie. And at other times he showed ability. Hernandez proved he is fully capable of being slotted into the already athletic outfield group the Astros have without a huge drop-off.
The challenge for Teoscar in 2017, however, will be staying in the big leagues.
The Stros went out and added several players this off-season, three of them outfielders. Nori Aoki, Josh Reddick, and most noticeably, Carlos Beltran, are all capable of filling the corner outfield spots. The addition of these players will allow George Springer to move to center.
Cuban acquisition Yulieski Gurriel can also play left field if needed. This leaves several players to battle for the 4th outfield spot.
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Jake Marisnick is the player that seems to be poised to take the last outfield spot. He possesses exceptional speed, Gold Glove Caliber Defense, and is seen as a fan favorite. What Marisnick lacks, however, is offensive consistency. He can be disruptive on offense when hot, but otherwise, he fails to get on base consistently.
If Hernandez shows the ability to do just that, he can edge Marisnick. A solid back of the lineup hitter coming off the bench would be immensely valuable to this team. Teoscar had enough speed to warrant this and showed up to par defensive skills in 2016. This would also free up Marisnick to potentially include him in a trade for a front-line starter.
Hernandez has a chance to launch his career in 2017. His ceiling is that of Odubel Herrera, and at worst can give the production of an Alex Presley or Robbie Grossman. It will be interesting following him in 2017.
***Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference***