Frisco, Texas —— Entering play on Wednesday night, Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Elier Hernandez is slashing .317/.355/.489/.844 in 46 games in 2017 split between the High-A Wilmington Blue Rocks and the Double-A Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Hernandez has been on the disabled list since June 4, but I observed the Kansas City Royals’ former top international prospect several times in late May, 2017; below is Baseball Census’ Elier Hernandez scouting report, including video.
Elier Hernandez Scouting Report — Video
Our video of Kansas City Royals outfielder Elier Hernandez comes from a late May series against the Frisco RoughRiders:
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Elier Hernandez Scouting Report — Notes
Elier Hernandez stands out among his peers. He’s massive, with an athletic body, thick forearms, and broad shoulders in a build that screams raw power. At the plate, his bat speed and power match up with his body type just like you’d hope they would; he was putting extremely good swings on some decent pitches in late May and seeing the ball pretty well. His approach at the plate is still raw, though, and he struggles to recognize off-speed pitches. He’s up there to hack, too, and he rarely works deep counts. While that could benefit a guy with plus contact skills, Hernandez isn’t quite there, and so he struggles at times getting out on his front foot or swinging through pitches he shouldn’t be offering at in the first place. But again, his bat is quick and his swing tuned to hit line drives and balls in the air, and it’s unlikely you’ll see too many fastballs sneak by him.
Defensively, Hernandez has the foot speed to play center field, but his body type and above-average arm strength—combined with his offensive profile and projection at the plate—screams corner outfielder. He predominantly played right field this summer before going down with an injury, and that should probably be his best future fit. Still just 22 years old and once a former very highly-regarded international prospect, he’s going to grow into his body some more and bulk up over the next few seasons. That ought to leave him well-qualified for the corner spots with the expectation that he should show enough power there to earn his keep.
Elier Hernandez Scouting Report — Projection
Elier Hernandez isn’t on any Kansas City Royals top prospect list, perhaps in part because he’s repeated several levels and has now been in the system six years, but he’s still just 22 years old and he’d been doing well in Double-A at the time of his injury in early June. I like him a lot as a future platoon outfielder predominantly playing the corners. I don’t think he’s going to have enough plate discipline to be an everyday guy in one spot, but his athleticism will do him some favors in being able to roam all three outfield positions while matching up against pitchers—especially lefties—in a way that will benefit him best.
He has yet to break out with plus power numbers, but I think that will come, too, thanks to eye-popping natural strength and that above-average bat speed. His injury comes at a bad time; the sample size is small (just 16 games), but Hernandez had hit the ground running in Double-A after parts of three seasons spent at High-A Wilmington. Now, he’ll have to restart once again after missing significant time, and he may just be an Arizona Fall League candidate come October depending on his timetable. Long term, in a best-case scenario, he could become a Yasiel Puig-type player: great athleticism, good speed, and above-average power when right (though Elier Hernandez doesn’t have quite the same arm strength). If he falls short of that projection, expect him to be a platoon outfielder with a little bit of sneaky over-the-fence pop that should consistently crush lefties.