Ben Hernandez was someone I admittedly was not looking at for the Royals at 41. I was really expecting a college pitcher or possibly college bat like Cabrera or DeLoach. However, this is a good pick.
By taking a high school kid at 41 after an overnight break, the Royals and Hernandez must already have a financial bonus number in place. He is more of a developmental type of pick. This isn’t because of a lack of ability, but more to do with how many solid college arms are already ahead of him in the system. We didn’t see any game action from Hernandez this spring because his team never got to play a game with the shutdown.
Hernandez can work up to 95 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pass that number soon. Hernandez has been touching 90 since his sophomore year of high school and has continued to increase his personal bests. Hernandez does a really good job of keeping his arm speed at a high level. His fastball has arm side movement and bores into right-handed hitters. The fastball usually works 90 to 95.
Hernandez’s change up is the pitch that really makes people take a second glance. The pitch has sharp, arm side run and tumble. It has quick and late movement. Hitters have a really hard time seeing the pitch because Hernandez keeps his arm speed at an extremely high level.
Hernandez said he lost his feel for his curve as pitched over the last year. He seems to have found it again and his curve is around 80. It has 11 to 5 movement from the catcher’s perspective. Initial reports are the pitch wasn’t very advanced but it looked solid in the videos I’ve been able to find. It has a smaller break but has good shape and seems to spin well.
Hernandez also throws a cutter. He took the grip from a freeze frame of Walker Buehler while watching video of him in class. The pitch is thrown much harder at close to 90. Hernandez feels it’s his third best pitch.
Hernandez has an advanced feel for pitching. He is effortless in his delivery and produces high velocities with a Bugs Bunny change. The action on his fastball makes him hard to hit and will be an effective tool for him moving into professional baseball.
Hernandez uses a leg lift that is just above his waist while in the wind up. He stays online and there is very little jerky movement in his delivery. Out of the stretch, he uses a lower knee-to-knee delivery. I did not see a slide step or full leg lift but will continue to search out video.
Hernandez looks like a really good pick for the Royals. He choose to play baseball at UIC because it gave him a chance to play every day close to his family. There are some medical issues in his family which keep them really close. The Royals are a great organization for him as they value family and relationships and will allow him some freedom when it comes to his family.
Image from News Break. No photographer was credited.