Sunday, December 18, 2011

#17 Prospect - Gorkys Hernandez

Gorkys Hernandez, my # 17 Pirates prospect, is the first on my list to not be drafted by the Pirates.  Gorkys was signed originally by Detroit, and went to the Braves in exchange for Edgar Renteria.  Gorkys excelled in the Braves system as a 20 year old in A+ ball, putting up a .734 OPS.  Those offensive stats meshed well with Gorkys's reputation as one of the best defensive CF's in baseball, giving him significant value as a prospect.  In 2009, Baseball America's #62 preseason prospect packed his bags for Pittsburgh as part of the trade that sent Nate McLouth to the Braves.

Hernandez, who stands 6'0 and weighs 180 pounds, struggled initially when he arrived at AA Altoona.  In 86 games and 344 AB's Hernandez, who was lauded for his solid hit tool in addition to his glove, hit only .262.  Gorkys also saw his power, which was below-average to begin with, disappear, putting up an ISO of .078, for a total OPS of .652  Finally, he had troubles with plate discipline posting a 6.3% BB rate and a 20.3 K rate compared to respective numbers of 10.3% and 16.9% the year prior.  Furthermore, Gorkys has stolen 20 bases in 24 attempts in 2008 at A+ ball.  In 2009, in the Pirates and Braves farm system combined, he stole 19 bases in 35 attempts, a horrible percentage. He dropped out of Baseball America's top 100, but Gorkys still had two major attributes playing in his favor: youth and his glove.

In 2010, Gorkys repeated AA and only added 10 points to his OPS, finishing the season with an OPS of .662.  Gorkys plate discipline didn't change much, as he walked a bit more but also struck out a bit more, posting an almost identical BB:K ratio of .35 compared to .32 in 2009.  His power production was worse, as he posted a .068 ISO.  As a positive, Gorkys did improve on the basepaths, stealing 17 bases in 20 attempts.

However, last year, Gorkys had a very solid year that gained him little notoriety.  Gorkys cut down on his strikeouts, managing a rate under 20% (19.2%) for the first time since 2008.  His walk rate stayed fairly steady from the previous year (8%) at 7.4%, which was better than his 6.5% rate in 2009.  Most importantly Gorkys hit the ball well and with more authority than he had in the past two years, posting a .283 average and a .108 ISO.  He finished with a .740 OPS and a 106 wRC+ as an age appropriate 23 year-old in AAA. 

There is a strong possibility that Gorkys will probably best serve the Pirates as a trade chip considering the depth they have in the outfield that includes Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, Starling Marte, Robbie Grossman, and Josh Bell.  The Pirates will try and convince other teams that Gorkys Hernandez is a legitimate starting CF rather than a 4th OF.  Gorkys defensive wizardry and solid speed almost assures that he will be able to stick on a roster as a defensive specialist and pinch runner.  Because of how phenomenal Gorkys's glove is, he simply needs to be below-average with the bat to be more than that.  Considering his improvement last season, I believe Gorkys can be at least below-average with his bat, and that's why he is my #17 prospect.


  1. One of the most underrated players in pirates farm system. if we didnt have Cutch in CF, he is easily top ten IMO

  2. I disagree with your logic. Prospect rankings should not consider who is or is not on the ML squad.