Draft : : Prospect Scouting Reports
Friday, February 22, 2013

Draft Focus: Jan Hernandez

David Rawnsley        
Photo: Perfect Game
Every weekday leading up to the 2013 MLB Draft, Perfect Game will be providing a scouting profile on a notable draft-eligible prospect.  Stay tuned to Perfect Game and be sure to visit the Draft Page for all of the latest info and reports pertaining to the draft.

Jan Hernandez Perfect Game profile

Position:  SS/3B
Height:  6-3
Weight:  195
Bats/Throws:  R-R
Birthdate:  Jan. 3, 1995
High School:  Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy
City, State:  San Lorenzo, P.R.
Travel Team:  Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico
Projected Draft Round:  1

It was just less than 14 months ago that Carlos Correa came to the Perfect Game World Showcase in Fort Myers and put on the show that would vault him to the top spot on the Perfect Game Class of 2012 prospect list. Correa, of course, had earlier become the first Puerto Rican to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic the previous summer.

Since then, things have continued very well for baseball at the prospect level in Puerto Rico, not an insignificant thing when you consider the often documented drought in the talent coming off the island over the past two decades.

Correa went on to become by far the highest Puerto Rican drafted since Puerto Rico entered the draft in 1989, going first overall to the Houston Astros. The Minnesota Twins made right handed pitcher Jose Berrios the highest drafted Puerto Rican pitcher ever with the 32nd pick, and the Los Angeles Dodgers made it an unprecedented three Puerto Ricans in the first and supplemental first round by grabbing shortstop Jesumel Valentin with the 51st pick. Overall, eight Puerto Rican players would be drafted in the first eight rounds.

Correa and the island’s overall Class of 2012 has contributed to an overall swell in excitement and involvement in baseball at the prospect level, too.

In the past, about 25-30 Puerto Ricans have traveled to Fort Myers in early January for the World Showcase. In December, Perfect Game, after years of discussing the idea, held their first Caribbean Showcase in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The initial event planning was centered around the potential for 65-70 players to attend. The final count was 137, almost double the first estimates. At the World Showcase two months ago, there were 106 Puerto Ricans on the field.

It’s almost a certainty that this huge surge in participation has resulted in many, many young men getting baseball opportunities that wouldn’t have been available to them previously.

Fortunately for the continuing development of baseball in Puerto Rico, there is a very worthy successor to Correa’s legacy in the Class of 2013, along with another very deep pool of talented prospects behind him. That successor would be Correa’s former teammate on Team Mizuno Puerto Rico, Jan Hernandez.

Actually, not only were Hernandez and Correa on the same team, they were joined by Jesumel Valentin for a while, giving Team Mizuno an infield that may one day rival the B.J. Upton, David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman combo that played on a local summer club in Virginia together over a decade ago.

It was really pretty amazing,” Team Mizuno coach Edwin Rodriguez said later. “We had the three best shortstops in Puerto Rico on one team, and you have to understand that in Puerto Rico playing shortstop as opposed to second or third is very important to one’s, ah, ego. Valentin very understandably decided to go to another team so he could play there every day. Jan decided to be patient and wait a year and play beside Carlos and it was a very good decision for everyone. There’s no question who the star shortstop is now.”

Hernandez is indeed a potential future star in the making. He’s currently ranked 17th overall in the Perfect Game Class of 2013 rankings, and, like Correa, was a Perfect Game All-American. It would surprise few evaluators if Hernandez went in the first round in June, perhaps high enough to become the second highest Puerto Rican ever drafted.

Despite their similar backgrounds and positions, Hernandez and Correa have been compared to each other infrequently as prospects and with good reason, as they are different types of athletes. While Correa was long and lean and projectable physically, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Hernandez is more like a big cat, with a combination of size and strength that would make him fit into a big league uniform very comfortably right now. The “big cat” analogy is also not a bad way to describe Hernandez athletically and especially on defense, as he has a looseness and balance to go with his strength that few possess.

While Hernandez plays shortstop now, many scouts have already mentally moved him to third base as a professional due to his size and actions. The position change isn’t hurt by watching Hernandez play third base occasionally now, as his combination of first step quickness, soft hands and cannon arm really stands out at that position. Infielders with upper-80s to low-90s arms are not uncommon in Puerto Rico, or at least in the 2013 class, and watching Hernandez take infield with his peers is instructive. The ball comes out of his hand differently, with less effort and more strength, than really any infielder in the entire 2013 class

Just how high Hernandez is picked in June is likely going to come down to who likes him the most offensively. Hernandez has first round bat speed and projects plus power at the professional level. His swing mechanics are not consistent yet and he’ll go through streaks where he’s looking to lift the ball too much, not an uncommon thing for a young hitter who is trying to impress. When Hernandez learns to keep his swing short and level through the zone and trust his bat speed and strength work for him, he could blossom as a hitter. If that happens over the next four months, expect big things in June.

While make-up and character are often secondary considerations in the evaluation process, scouts should remember that Hernandez was the recipient of Perfect Game’s Nick Adenhart Award at the All-American Classic Banquet last August. The Nick Adenhart Award, named after the late Angels pitcher who was a member of the first class of Perfect Game (then Aflac) All-Americans in 2003, is given each year to the All-American who best exemplifies Adenhart’s character on and off the field. The always smiling and upbeat Hernandez was the star of the show when the 2012 All-Americans made their annual visit to Rady Children’s Hospital before the game.

Perfect Game events attended:

    2010 15U BCS Finals
    2012 World Showcase
    2012 National Showcase
    2012 WWBA 2012 Grads or 18u National Championship
    2012 18U BCS Finals
    2012 Perfect Game All-American Classic Presented by Rawlings
    2012 WWBA World Championship
    2012 Caribbean Showcase
    2013 World Showcase

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