On Saturday, June 2nd, David Hernandez took the hill against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans in front of the largest crowd of the year at Harry Grove Stadium.
Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise for most of the year. Coming into this appearance, only his previous start could be classified as a poor outing and he has been a consistent performer in the O's organization's most prospect-laden rotation.
The Keys' right-hander started out strong, striking out the side in the first, but command problems cropped up in the 3rd and 4th inning. He ended the day with the following line: 3.2 ip, 4 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 1 HR (Game Box Score).
After the game, I spoke with two talent evaluators about Hernandez. The first, Frederick Keys Manager Tommy Thompson, was able to look past his rough outing and find plenty of positive things to say about his 22 year old starter.
"He got behind in some counts," Thomson explained. "When he missed with a pitch, they executed. They hit the ball. We had a chance for a double play and we didn't execute it. Then it got to a 3-2 count [on Isaiah Kala Ka'aihue] and their team is a very good hitting team, they are going to score runs, and the guy just hit it out of the park. Dave battled. I tip my hat to him. It just didn't work out tonight but our bullpen picked him up. I'm not disappointed in Dave. He competed tonight and he's going to get the ball out there again in five days and compete again."
"He's got three pitches. He can pitch inside. He can throw a breaking ball. He can throw a fastball away and he can throw a changeup at anytime in any count. He just needs to locate his pitches better and, I think, pitch with a little more confidence at times. I don't know if he realizes how good of stuff and pitches he has. Once that comes into play, I think the concentration and confidence will take those pitches and make them even better against the hitters."
A scout from outside of the Baltimore Orioles organization was also on hand to watch Hernandez pitch and he came away impressed despite the difficulties.
"He did pretty good, he topped out at 94 MPH. He had pretty good command for a little while, but things started to fall apart a little bit."
After starting out so well, the scout explained, Hernandez ran into trouble when he started to tire.
"His mechanics started to break down a little bit. When he first got going, he started off really great and then, all of a sudden, he got tired real quick and his mechanics fell and then everything fell apart."
"His arm slot was the main thing. It went from overhead delivery and then came down to a three-quarters slot."
Nevertheless, the scout saw better days ahead in Hernandez's future, even praising his secondary offerings.
"The breaking ball and changeup are really good. He mostly has command of it. Tonight, it was just one of those things, he just broke down early. I just think he was a little bit tired."
Michael Hollman is the Senior Writer for Inside The Warehouse and can be reached via email at Publisher@InsideTheWarehouse.com