What Do the Pirates See in Gorkys Hernandez, Beyond His Outstanding Defense?

Gorkys Hernandez has been searching for something throughout his career that he thinks that he has finally located after a solid Spring Training: Consistency.

“One thing is that I want to be consistent,” Hernandez said. “That is what we are looking for and what we are working for. That is really what Pittsburgh wants. If I am consistent, I will be in the big leagues.”

Consistency and some power are what Hernandez brought to the table in the spring. In his small sample size, he hit for a .407 average, with a home run, a double, and a pair of triples.

“Gorkys has had a great camp. It’s amazing that it’s his 27-year-old season,” Pirates’ General Manager Neal Huntington said after Hernandez was cut from big league camp during Spring Training. “He can still play defense with just about anybody. The swing looks shorter. Now is the time to go out and get him consistent at-bats, and see if this swing change is going to translate into the quality that we saw so far this Spring Training.”

Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor got an opportunity to view Hernandez in the spring and saw a different player at the plate, but the prowess in the center field as a defender.

“I saw (Hernandez) in Spring Training and I know that they are excited up there,” Treanor said. “We brought him back because he is such a good defensive outfielder, so we have that insurance down here. But he really opened some eyes in Spring Training with the bat. I like his swing now, and it is only going to help him.”

Hernandez has been one of the best outfield defenders in the minors, and has also been a stolen base option, with 205 in nine minor league seasons. However, he is hopeful that the new stroke and the work that he is putting in get him back in Pittsburgh, where he saw some action during the 2012 season.

“In Spring Training, that was what we were looking for,” Hernandez said. “I did my job and I am just glad to be here with the Pittsburgh Pirates. I am here to keep working and to keep it up. You never know if you will have a chance to come up. That is what we are looking for and I just keep trying to do my job.”

As for the swing itself, Hernandez credits a new approach, where he is sitting on pitches that he knows that he can handle, by using more patience and a controlled cut when he gets it.

“I have [made a few changes in the swing]. I have a little more control with the bat and I have been specifically looking for one pitch. I try to use my hands. That is what I have been trying, putting in the work, and it has been working for me. It carried over into Spring Training.”

The Pirates will give Hernandez a good look with Indianapolis to see if his offense has really seen some lasting changes. If he is able to fulfill his goals at the plate this season, combined with the skill set the he brings to the table in other aspects on the field, he very well could find his way to Pittsburgh before it is all said and done, even if it’s just for his speed and defense. This is a similar situation to how the organization handled Felix Pie in 2013. They saw something they liked in Spring Training, gave him plenty of time in Triple-A to see if his offense was legit, and still managed to find a role for him in September off the bench, despite the poor offensive numbers with Indianapolis.

Hernandez will be a guy to watch this summer, since he’s got a good chance to arrive in Pittsburgh this year, even if it’s just in a minor role at the end of the season.

  • I like what I saw from him offensively in Spring Training and winter ball. I hope he continues it in Indy. Gorky should be given more an opportunity than say Jeff Decker.

  • He’s better defensively than Marte and Polanco. His arm is incredibly strong and accurate. I’d love to see him as our 25 man.

  • Defensively, he has been a MLB quality defender in all three outfield spots for a long time. As good or better than anyone in the organization.

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