Ben Hernandez is considered to be one of the best players in this upcoming draft. At just 18 years of age, he’s managed to impress many scouts, with a good repertoire of highly rated pitches. He just graduated from high school and has to make a decision, whether to attend college at the University of Illinois of Chicago or sign a minor league contract once he’s drafted.
Hernandez is a right-handed pitcher that stands at 6’2’’ and weighs 205 pounds. Currently, he relies on three pitches, fastball, changeup, and curveball. MLB.com ranks him as the 73rd best prospect in this draft class.
Hernandez’ changeup has been rated by some scouts as the best changeup in this draft class. It currently sits at 85-87 MPH and he’s learned to pitch it with consistent control. His second-best pitch is his fastball, which he’s able to pitch it in the 94-95 range. The curveball is his weakest pitch, but scouts still rank it well. It currently sits in the 78-80 range.
To go along with these three pitches, Hernandez has been working on developing a new pitch, a cutter. During school, he’s been studying Los Angeles Dodgers‘ Walker Buehler’s grip and practicing the delivery afterschool. After hard work, he got it at a point where he can confidently say it’s even better than his curveball. It’s a pitch that one can expect will get better with time and should attract teams.
Hernandez was selected to play for the 2019 Perfect Game All-American Classic, as well as pitching in the Prospect Development Pipeline League. He was considered the best pitcher in the Prospect Development Pipeline League. In three outings he pitched six hitless innings, striking out seven hitters and only issuing one walk.
While not a weakness of his body of work, teams should be cautious when drafting Hernandez. His decision to sign with the University of Illinois of Chicago was in order to stay close to his family. As a recent graduate of high school, it’s understandable if he decides to test college for a couple of years, spend some more time with his family and then reenter the draft. UIC also has a good baseball program, which has consistently developed MLB talent. Choosing to put his professional career on hold, while he develops into a better pitcher, is an option that he might end up taking.
Additionally, he still needs to work on his curveball and his cutter isn’t fully developed. While his curveball has good spin, he slows his arm when he delivers it. This leads to hitters being able to know when the pitch is coming. With more work, Hernandez could end up having four great pitches in his arsenal, but at the moment he highly relies on his fastball and changeup.
With one of the better changeups in the draft pool, Ben Hernandez’ best comparison is Chris Paddack. Paddack was a rookie last season for the San Diego Padres and instantly became one of the best young pitchers in the game. Like Hernandez, his pitching arsenal relies on his fastball, changeup, and curveball, and his strength is combining both his fastball and changeup to generate swings and misses.
Both pitchers are tall righties with similar velocity on all three pitches. Paddack has a fastball that can reach over 98 MPH, which Hernandez still doesn’t have, but they both usually stay in that 94-95 range. Similar to Hernandez, Paddack’s changeup averages at 85 MPH and is considered his best pitch. Both have a curveball that sits around 76-78 MPH and its currently their weakest pitch.
If Hernandez keeps pitching like he showed he can in the Prospect Development Pipeline League and keeps working on his cutter and curveball, he’ll be a very exciting player in the future.
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