Coming into this season, Gorkys Hernandez had the speed and the defense to be a big league player. However, he has not been able to put it all together at the plate.
After a strong Spring Training, the Pirates expressed excitement in Hernandez’s change in his swing and his approach, which I reported about to begin the season. Not only does Hernandez look more confident at the plate, he is also living on the base paths this season, which allows him to showcase his true tools with speed.
In his second go-around with the Pirates organization, Hernandez is hitting .284 with a .359 on base percentage with Indianapolis. He has already walked at a 10.5% rate this year, which marks the second highest level of his career. In most of his time at the Triple-A level, he has been in the 6-7.5% range.
Getting on base sets Hernandez up to steal bases, which he has been strong at every minor league season. Hernandez has swiped seven bases this season and has only been caught once. For his minor league career Hernandez has stolen almost 75 percent of his attempts.
In addition, some of the power has returned this season as well. In 279 at bats last season, Hernandez had 19 extra base hits, all doubles. This season, he has 14 in 148 at bats with 10 doubles, two triples, and a pair of home runs. His .132 ISO is the best result he has put up since a .137 ISO in rookie ball in 2006.
While Hernandez has done some work at the top of the order this season, he has been utilized in the ninth hole a great deal against American League affiliate to turn the lineup back to the top of the order with a high on base player.
Typically a strength for him, Hernandez has been stellar defensively. He is a rangy center fielder, who eliminates large gaps and erases extra base hits.
With his new-found ability to get on base consistently, mixed with the skills that he already had, Hernandez is looking like a complete player. At 27, he still has some time to develop the same skills at the major league level. While it is difficult to see him making a splash with the Pirates long-term, if there are some injuries, he could be a short-term difference maker off the bench.