Perhaps the most talented Royals prospect that no one ever talks about, Elier Hernandez appeared to be well on his way into the Royals Top 30 Prospects earlier this season before suffering an injury that sideline him for most of 2017. Hernandez hit .306 with 4 HR in with High-A Wilmington to begin the year, and then got even better in 16 games with AA Northwest Arkansas (.339 and 1 HR) before getting injured.
Back in 2011, Elier Hernandez was thought of as one of the best prospects in all of Latin America. The Royals signed him at the age of 16 for $3.05M, a near record for a Latin American hitter. Hernandez, now 22, will go to the Arizona Fall League to attempt to make up for lost time in 2017.
Hernandez has had an interesting journey through the minor leagues. As a 17-year old in 2012, he skipped the Arizona Summer League and Rookie League Burlington and jumped straight to Idaho Falls. He struggled, as you can imagine, hitting only .208 in 60 games, but the fact that Dayton Moore and the Royals brass were confident enough in Hernandez to let him play there all year ought to say a lot about the young man.
In 2013, as an 18-year old, Hernandez hit .301 in his second full season with Idaho Falls, and out performed 2017 Royals MiLB Hitter of the Year Frank Schwindel.
Elier Hernandez has made steady progress throughout the minor leagues since he debuted in 2012. He’s struggled in his first season at just about every level, and then rebounds to destroy that level the next season. Struggle, dominate, advance, repeat, at every level he’s played in since 2012.
Northwest Arkansas was the first level that Hernandez appeared to be ready for when he arrived, and his ability to handle AA pitching this spring had me ridiculously excited for Hernandez’ future. Hernandez took a little longer in High-A than I think the Royals would have liked, but man did he look good this spring.
If Elier Hernandez has a good showing in the AZFL, and impresses during Spring Training, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he started 2018 with AAA Omaha. Smart money would be on him to start out with AA Northwest Arkansas, but don’t be surprised if he’s in the Storm Chaser’s outfield very early on in 2018.
Do yourself a favor and go read this outstanding scouting report on Hernandez from BaseballCensus.com. He’s going to be a stud if he can build on the start he had to 2017.