Gifted with a strong throwing arm, quick swing and fleet feet, Boise Hawks shortstop Marco Hernandez has the makings of a player to watch in the future.
And people have noticed. MLB.com ranked Hernandez as the Chicago Cubs’ No. 16 overall prospect.
“He’s got all of the tools,” Hawks batting coach Bill Buckner said. “His swings are good, all of his tools are really good, so he should be a really good player.”
There’s only one problem.
“He’s underachieving,” Buckner said.
The 19-year-old Dominican Republic native entered Thursday night’s Northwest League game against the Tri-City Dust Devils batting .232 (16-for-69) with a team-high eight errors in 16 games.
So, Hernandez isn’t worried about the future, unless it’s the next ground ball hit his way or pitch he’s trying to square up.
Hernandez produced for the Hawks on Thursday night. He went 2-for-5 with a triple and drove in two runs and scored one more as 2,117 fans watched at Memorial Stadium. That improved his batting average to .243.
Prior to the game, the switch-hitting Hernandez sprayed baseballs to all parts of the ballpark, showing the quick hands that helped him hit .333 with 16 doubles, five triples, two home runs and 42 RBIs in 2011 with the Cubs’ rookie league team in Mesa, Ariz.
Hernandez said his lack of patience at the plate — swinging at pitches outside of the strike zone — have hindered him this season.
“I haven’t been able to walk a lot and I’ve been getting out in early counts a lot just because of aggressiveness,” Hernandez said through translator David Rosario, the Hawks' pitching coach. “I have to learn to be more selective.”
Buckner said Hernandez will have to learn on the run, working through his struggles in game settings, but he can see Hernandez excelling in the end.
“I could project him being a .280 hitter with a little pop,” Buckner said.
Hernandez has an uphill battle, but he’s prepared with the physical and mental makeup to continue progressing. He plays a premium position that is stocked with several of the Cubs’ best prospects.
Starlin Castro is an All-Star at the big league level, Javier Baez is perhaps the Cubs’ top over prospect remaining in the minor leagues and Junior Lake is on the Cubs’ 40-man roster and excelling at Class AA Tennessee.
Hernandez said he isn’t worried about which players are ahead of him in the organization or if he will be asked to change positions should he figure things out and rise through the minor league ranks.
“That’s out of my hands right now, I’m just trying to develop at my position, prepare myself to be the best that I can at my position and eventually, that’s what’s the decision is that would be out of my hands,” Hernandez said.
Buckner said players at shortseason Class A Boise are too far away to worry about what players are ahead of them in the farm system.
“They have to get out of this league first,” he said. “But that’s a good problem to have.”