Sunday, December 19, 2021
One of my favorite arms in the Braves system over the last few seasons and ranked 26th on my 2022 Offseason Braves Prospect List, right-hander Daysbel Hernández is a player on the rise this winter, and according to The Athletic, he is Atlanta’s top candidate for the MLB Rule 5 Draft (which was originally scheduled for Dec. 9, but because of the lockout… will talk place… eventually).
Hernández may have stumbled a bit versus Triple-A batters to open 2021, but it’s important to remember that the now-25-year-old had never threw a pitch above High-A before this past season. The Cuban pitcher didn’t make it out of the month of May with Gwinnett (posting a 9.64 ERA in a short stint), but he was one of Double-A Mississippi’s best relief arms for much of the year, and by mid-September he was back with the Stripers, where he performed much better during the final few weeks.
Though his long-standing command issues — and the fact that he’s a reliever in his mid-20s – have plagued his stock lately, Hernández’s overall numbers in 2021 were strong. Opposing batters slashed just .208/.316/.329 versus the righty, including a paltry line for lefties (.193/.310/.351). With an average of 12.3 strikeouts per nine and just four homers allowed all year, Hernández’s minor league season is nothing to scoff at, even if the Braves decided not to protect him this winter.
Although, Atlanta may be kicking itself soon.
Hernández has been pitching with the Mexican Winter League’s Caneros de Los Mochis and has performed very well, striking out 32 batters in 24 innings so far, to go with a strong 3.00 ERA. In a span of 23 appearances, the righty is sporting an average of 12 K/9 and just 2.3 BB/9, suggesting that perhaps his command issues are improving.
It would be a shame to lose Hernández this winter, but given how well he has pitched this offseason it very well could happen. Thankfully, the Braves have several up and coming arms that could be perfect for the big league bullpen in the near future, so it’s not as if the system is thin in that regard. Regardless, though, it is good to see Hernández doing well, so if he is in fact selected in the Rule 5 Draft (whenever it takes place), hopefully he’s able to keep it up.