An impressive physical specimen and still just 23 years old (DOB: November 21, 1994) despite repeating levels already three different times in his career, Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Elier Hernandez makes for an interesting follow with abundant physical tools who has thus far been unable to flash them consistently enough push his way into a conversation for a future big league role. Powerful with a projectable and impressive build, Hernandez was finally killing the ball this summer splitting time between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas — in 46 games, he was slashing .317/.355/.489/.844 with 11 doubles and five home runs in 186 at-bats — before an injury ended his season in early June. As luck would have it, we saw him just days before that injury in his final full series of the summer, on the road in Frisco.
The Kansas City Royals opted to send Elier Hernandez to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time once he recovered after the year, and it’s there that Baseball Census observed him for the second time in 2017, playing outfield for the Surprise Saguaros and facing some of the best pitching prospects in the game now fully healthy and ready for action. In 19 games for Surprise, the outfielder slashed .206/.286/.309/.595 with four doubles, a home run, seven walks, and 16 strikeouts across 77 plate appearances.
Below, you’ll find our full, end-of-year Elier Hernandez scouting report, including tool grades, multiple game/at-bat videos, and projection notes. For our mid-summer notes on the Kansas City Royals prospect from back in July, please click here.
Elier Hernandez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017
Dates observed in 2017: May 30 – June 1; Arizona Fall League
Elier Hernandez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017 Game Video
Elier Hernandez Scouting Report — Notes, Analysis & Projection
Every year is an important year for every single minor leaguer needing to prove themselves in this difficult game, but even more than the general grind, this coming year will be a particularly important one for Elier Hernandez with the Kansas City Royals. Age is still on his side, but a season-ending injury at the wrong time in 2017 derailed what would’ve been a breakout year and Hernandez can ill afford another setback now after the stops and starts of his last several seasons. There are plenty of workable tools here that set Hernandez apart; his power alone should carry him into an easy corner outfield platoon role, and if he proves he can hit beyond that and develop defensively, he may still have a shot at an everyday role, even if only as a second-division regular.
Most immediately, he’ll begin 2018 either back with Northwest Arkansas, or at Triple-A Omaha; there’s an outside shot he does enough to jump to Kansas City by the end of the summer, but I’m not bullish on his hit tool adjusting and his power profile showing out that quickly in the upper minors, small 2017 sample aside. If everything goes well, expect him to be in the running for a 25-man roster spot with the Kansas City Royals when the following spring training starts 14 months from now. If, on the other hand, he struggles out of the gate in 2018 and spends the year underachieving in the Texas League, he may get lost in the shuffle and fall into an up-and-down/organizational depth future.
Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Utility/platoon in a corner outfield role with power as carrying tool; must prove himself with solid show-me 2018 to prove growth and stay on timeline (45)
MLB ETA: 2019
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