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Countdown to Arizona Diamondbacks Opening Day: D-36, Oscar Hernandez

Will Hernandez become the Man Who Never Was?

Arizona Diamondbacks Photo Day Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We asked you to rank the 40-man roster along with the 16 non-roster invitees to spring training, and every day between now and the eve of Opening Day, we’ll have a profile of one of those Diamondbacks.

D minus 36: Oscar Hernandez

  • Date of birth: July 9, 1993
  • Ht/Wt: 6’1”, 220 lbs
  • Position: Catcher
  • Status: 40-man roster
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • 2016 MLB numbers: 11 PA in 4 games, .182/.182/.455
  • SnakePit Rating: 4.17 [pattern of votes below]

A Rule 5 draft pick from the Rays in December 2014, Hernandez managed to stick around in 2015, by spending the bare minimum of time allowed by the rules on the active roster. He broke a bone in his hand during spring training, and came back off the DL just before the All-Star break. Even though he was on the roster the rest of the way, we didn’t see much of him - he didn’t start once for Arizona during the final 55 games, making just 11 plate-appearances in that time. By coincidence, that’s the same number of PA as Hernandez made in the entire 2016 season: he got a week with the major-league club in mid-August, and then came up again on September 18.

The rest of the year, he spent between High-A and Double-A. He hit .238 there, but showed more pop than previously: across all levels, he had 11 home-runs in 294 PA. That included Oscar’s first in the big leagues (below), coming August 10th in the 12th inning against the Mets, and providing the margin of victory there. But the plethora of catchers trying out this spring with the team does suggest new management may not be as hot on Hernandez as the previous regime, who were clearly willing to do everything they could in 2015 to keep him around.

In his favor though, he’s still 23, an age at which only Miguel Montero and Chris Snyder even debuted in Arizona. And it’s not as if the system is overflowing with alternative catching prospects, is it? There’s Ronnie Freeman, but otherwise, it’s teenagers such as Ryan January and our second-round pick from June, Andy Yerzy, who are a long way off being anything. On that basis, I can see Hernandez sticking around in the minor leagues for a while longer. Maybe last year’s power surge will turn out to be for real, and he’ll turn out to be the long-term answer for which we’ve been seeking since the end of the Miggy era. Otherwise... Well, at least we named the SnakePit cat after him!

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