Braves top relief prospect undergoes Tommy John Surgery

Vaughn Grissom

Although the MLB lockout is still going on, baseball fans will still be able to watch minor league baseball and get a look at some top prospects. Unfortunately, the Braves are already down one of their top relief arms:

I thought Hernandez could get some looks in Atlanta this season if bullpen injuries became a problem. He’s had plenty of success at the AA level but really struggled in his promotion to AAA last season. Regardless, he will be rehabbing for the foreseeable future.

Here’s MLBPipeline’s scouting report on Atlanta’s #26 prospect:

After parts of two seasons pitching in Cuba as a teenager, Hernandez left for Mexico for a chance to make it to the big leagues. He eventually was able to sign with the Braves for $190,000 in September 2017 and went straight to full-season ball in 2018, brushing off a long layoff to pitch across two levels of Class A ball. He was dominant in a return to the Florida State League in 2019, but had trouble throwing strikes in the Arizona Fall League that fall. After pitching well at instructs in 2020, he was able to get some work in the Mexican Winter League.

A 5-foot-10 right-hander, Hernandez fits the power short reliever profile perfectly. His fastball sits easily in the mid-90s and hits 98-99 mph consistently, thrown with excellent riding life. He backs that up with a slider that flashes plus with bite when it’s tight enough, though it can get loopy at times and he can have trouble landing it in the strike zone.

Hernandez has had trouble with his control on and off since signing with the Braves, but he threw strikes fairly consistently during his time at instructs. He doesn’t need pinpoint command for him to get to the big leagues, and with the improvements with his slider, he could get some high-leverage innings in the future.

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