Aaron Hernandez was academically ineligible and lost his entire sophomore season with Texas A&M – Corpus Christi in 2017. Despite missing time, the right-handed pitcher impressed scouts last summer, as he briefly played in the Cape Cod League, posting a 2.40 ERA with 12 strikeouts and five walks in 15 innings.
His intangibles and success early on this spring, vaulted him into MLB Draft consideration. MLB.com ranks the junior hurler as the 73rd-best prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft, which begins June 4.
“I try not to think about it, but people are there, talking to me about it and asking me questions about it,” he said. “You have scouts calling you, sending you questionnaires, talking to you about the draft. Friends talk to me about it. It’s been a bit of a process and stressful.”
After striking out 12 and 15 batters in two of his first three starts, Hernandez has had mixed results this spring. He has a 4.44 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 36 walks in 71 innings (12 starts).
Surrendering 4.6 walks per nine innings, Hernandez said he’s been frustrated by his command and trying to tweak parts of his mechanics to improve in that area.
“It’s funny because I’ve been talking to some of my old coaches to figure out what I could be doing differently,” he said. “I’ve never been a guy, especially in high school, that ever walked a lot of guys. I was always a guy that lit up the gun and threw strikes.”
Although he lacks command and gets hit harder than he should at times, Hernandez possesses quality pitches.
A 6-foot-2, 175-pound hurler, Hernandez has a four-pitch repertoire, featuring a mid-90s fastball with sink, a curveball, slider and changeup. His three off-speed pitches are above-average with his mid-80s slider being his best offering.
“Being able to throw off-speeds for strikes,” said Hernandez on his biggest strength. “I can throw some sliders and curveballs over for strikes with my eyes closed. I think whenever I’m able to do that it sets up the fastball and makes my other pitches better.”
Hernandez will likely be the highest-ever player drafted from Texas A&M – Corpus Christi when he hears his name called this June. Right-handed pitcher Daniel Minor is the program’s highest draft pick, as the Houston Astros selected him in the ninth round in 2012.
Although he missed his sophomore season, Hernandez is glad he chose to play college baseball in his hometown and believes he’s grown as a pitcher and person in his time at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.
“Last year was a big eye-opening year,” he said. “Having to sit out and not play baseball was the longest time I had been without baseball my whole life. I’ve been playing baseball since I was young. I took it for granted.”