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Marco Hernandez, ¨exciting¨ Boston Red Sox prospect from Dominican Republic

Marco Hernandez, ¨exciting¨ Boston Red Sox prospect from Dominican Republic

Posted by PanamericanWorld on March 14, 2016

Most young Dominican Republic professional baseball players who I've come across covering the sport say they grew up idolizing one of their own countrymen, such as David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez or Vladimir Guerrero.

But Boston Red Sox prospect Marco Hernandez — a Santiago, Dominican Republic native — idolized a New York Yankees legend born in New Jersey and raised in Kalamazoo, Mich.

"I liked the way Derek Jeter played the game and how he looked out in the field," Hernandez said. 

"We're different kinds of players," added Hernandez, who's never met The Captain but hopes he does someday. "I hit lefty and he hits righty. But I like the way he plays the game and how he prepares for the game. He controlled the game."

The 23-year-old Hernandez is making a strong impression here at Red Sox spring training camp at JetBlue Park. He's 4-for-7 (.571 batting average) with two doubles, two walks, four RBIs, four runs and a .571/.667/.857/1.524 slash line in six games so far. 

He'll start 2016 at Triple-A Pawtucket but he has a chance to make the 25-man roster at some point during 2016. He's already on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster Nov. 20 to protect him from being available to other ball clubs in the December Rule 5 draft.

He has shown the ability to hit the ball hard, and he has played both second and shortstop. SoxProspects.com has ranked him the 13th best player in the system

"Any time you've got a left-handed hitting middle infielder seemingly their value just immediately is more," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. 

Hanley Ramirez recently told a few reporters about Hernandez, "This kid can hit." 

Being in big league camp has been a nice learning experience for Hernandez. 

"I try to learn as much as possible from those guys ... because that's my goal: to get to the big leagues this year," Hernandez said.

HERNANDEZ: A PLAYER TO BE NAMED LATER FROM THE CUBS

The Red Sox made what at the time appeared to be a minor trade July 30, 2014 when they sent starting pitcher Felix Doubront to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named.

The Cubs eventually sent Hernandez to Boston on Dec. 15, 2014 as that player to be named later.

Hernandez had slashed .270/.315/.351/.667 with only three homers, 13 doubles and seven triples in 122 games for High-A Daytona in 2014, his final season in the Cubs organization. 

From scouting reports and all the information gathered, the Red Sox didn't consider him a middle infielder with pop when they acquired him. 

But that has changed. He slashed .305/.330/.454/.783 with nine homers, 30 doubles and six triples in 114 games combined between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket in 2015. 

"I think we've seen (the pop) increase sizably over the last year," Farrell said. "You're looking initially at a 21-year-old. ... Now that he's 23 there can be some substantial changes physically. And it's showing up in his ability to impact the baseball."

Hernandez wants to be a run-producer, first and foremost. 

"I'm a line drive hitter with some power," he said. "Hitting a home run, that's not part of my game. My game is try to get on base, no matter what, every time and score runs. (Find) a way to bring runs to the plate."

Farrell added, "He's a pretty exciting young player. Sometimes that trade of a younger guy doesn't always pay those dividends immediately. Just talked to our development staff people: The amount of strength and physical maturity he's gone through since coming over here (is) showing up in his ability to drive the baseball. He's got good bat speed. He's athletic."

'IF I CAN HIT, I CAN PLAY IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES FOR A LONG TIME'

Hernandez slashed .258/.287/.373/.660 in 110 games between Short Season A and Low A during 2012. He feels that has been his only disappointing season as a hitter in pro ball.

"I just keep working on it every single day," he said. "I just had one bad year at the hitting side. I mean, after that, I had to work on it. Trying to keep working on my swing. If I can hit, I can play in the major leagues for a long time." 

He said he certainly needed to make adjustments advancing from Portland to Pawtucket. He struggled at times at Pawtucket but slashed .414/.469/.621/1.089 over his final seven games. 

Pitchers understand what they want to do more in Triple A, Hernandez said. They aren't just hard throwers. 

"You have to make adjustments right away quickly; different pitchers, different guys," he said. "A lot of guys (in (Triple A) have played in the big leagues. They know what they have to do there. In Double A, especially young guys, throw harder. And Triple A is different. I had to make adjustments right away."

Defensively, Hernandez remains a work in progress, Farrell said.

"He's an intense young player that wants to impress every time he walks on the field and (it) might cause him to be a little bit quick defensively right now where maybe some of that smoothness in his hands doesn't always transfer," Farrell said. 

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