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Who is Oscar Hernandez?


There has been some buzz around the interweb and the comments here on DRaysBay about who Oscar Hernandez is and why he is putting up historic statistics in the Venezuelan Summer League. Apparently no one can confidently answer that question.

You will not find a report on Baseball America. You will not find one on Minor League Ball. And you definitely will not find one on the 4-letter. Try doing a google search and see if you can find one. Apparently one does not exist. So, can we decipher anything from his lofty stats? I doubt it, but I am going to try anyways.

The Good:

Hernandez just turned 18 on July 9th and the league average age for the VSL is 18.4 years. Hernandez currently (as of 7/21) sits atop the VSL in all triple-slash categories with a .416/.513/.784 line. The league average hitter is only hitting .266/.358/.372.

He has a slugging percentage that is more than double the league average. His 19 homeruns are already a league record. The previous record was 15 by Roan Salas in 2009. Hernandez's homerun total accounts for exactly 1/8 of the entire league's homerun total. The 2nd place hitter has a whopping eight homeruns. Only two of the other five teams have more homeruns than Hernandez does. As a 16-year-old last year, he was not quite as good but still managed to out-slug the league by more than 40 points.

As a player younger than the rest of his league, he also has a decent BB/K rate of 0.78. On the defensive side of the ball, Hernandez has thrown out 42% of attempted base stealers; in 2010, he threw out 52% of attempted runners.

The Bad:

I do not know what the stadiums are like in that league but the Rays affiliate has more than 1/3 of the entire league's homeruns. Even if you take Hernandez's 19 out the Rays affiliate would still lead the league in homeruns. Could they be playing in a hitter's haven? It sure sounds like it. The Rays affiliate has lead the league in homeruns each year since it has had its own team from 2008-2011. The former league record holder played for none other than the Rays affiliate when he set the record at 15 homeruns. He is now with the Blue Jays low-A affiliate in Vancouver and is hitting .250/.282/.412 with 2 homeruns in 68 at-bats as a 21 year old.

Hernandez's OBP has also been helped by six unintentional walks and by being hit by 13 pitches. The league is a pretty wild one with 313 HBP in only 334 total games. By contrast, the Major Leagues have 914 HBP in 2924 games.

On defense he has what looks like a good success rate of throwing runners out but the league average is almost 40% but he is still above-average. But he also has 12 passed balls and 8 errors in only 35 games behind the plate. He has been the DH in the other 17 games.

The league rules state that "No player may have four or more years of prior Minor League Service. Draft-eligible players may not participate in the DSL or VSL, with the exception of two players from Puerto Rico." And age problems are a real concern that arise.

The Conclusion:

From the research I have done I found Hernandez is far and away having a historic season in the VSL. Sadly, though, the best hitting prospects to come through the VSL have been Jose Altuve, Ruben Tejada, Ezequiel Carrera, Luis Durango, and Argenis Reyes. The league only dates back to 2005 and is very young so some of these guys could still have potential careers but the early success rate of this league is not promising.

The bottom line is that while Oscar Hernandez is putting up ridiculous numbers as a young kid in the VSL we still have no idea who he is and if he is a legit prospect. If short history can dictate the future we may just be looking at a kid who can play some good backyard baseball but I hope that is far from the truth.