The Return of Red Sox Forgotten Utility Man Marco Hernández

After losing a majority of 2017 and all of 2018 due to injury, Red Sox prospect Marco Hernandez is back and his play looks promising.

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Marco Hernandez is a name that was forgotten by the casual Red Sox fan through the 2018 World Series campaign. With the team seeing so much success, there was no need for too many to inquire about who would be coming up the pipeline next. Sure, people knew the premier prospects such as Michael Chavis, but in general, prospects outside of the Red Sox daily news cycle don’t appear on the forefront of the casual fan’s mind.

But Marco Hernandez’s name lingered in a sort of limbo with those who remember the type of production he was giving the team during his short time with the club in 2016 and 2017. He was a utility infielder who showed some promise and someone that the excitement was certainly there for. He appeared to display some semblance of power, was a solid fielder, had a quick bat and showed some strong speed.

Overall, I was impressed with what I was seeing from him. I was ready to see him take that next step and well, perhaps be the eventual successor to Dustin Pedroia–which could certainly be the case at this point, but we’ll get to that later.

In 40 games in 2016 at the Major League level, Hernandez put together a season with a .294 batting average, a .357 OBP and a .730 OPS. These are numbers that impress especially when you’re talking about a kid who’s just 23-years-old.

So now 2017 is a year where you’re really going to get the chance to see what he can do through a longer stint in the big leagues. During the first month of the season into the early stages of May, the utility infielder saw 21 games, bouncing around to several positions in the infield and was impressing at the plate. The then 24-year-old prospect was hitting .276 with a .300 OBP and a .628 OPS. Nothing that was eye-popping but much like everything on his scouting report reads, it was solid.

It appeared as though 2017 was going to be the year where Marco Hernandez was given the opportunity to truly earn his spot–perhaps permanently–on the Red Sox roster. That was until a left shoulder injury which required surgery following a subluxation cut his season short. This injury subsequently caused the infielder to require more surgery in July of 2018, taking the entirety of that season away as well.

The Red Sox then set a franchise record for wins during the regular season, put on a dominating performance from start to finish, and won the World Series while Hernandez was forced to sit on the sideline. With Hernandez not in the picture, while the city of Boston had their eyes locked in on this championship team, he became essentially a forgotten man.

Hernandez had not played a game at the Major League level since May 3rd of 2017. This year on June 8th, he was slotted back into the Red Sox lineup.

Standing at 6’0″, 200 lbs, Hernandez has seemingly picked up right where he left off and truthfully, it doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat. In his season debut back on the 8th of this month, he was given one at-bat against division rival Tampa Bay and dropped in a double.

Since his season debut, Alex Cora has yet to have a game where the 26-year-old has at least not made an appearance.

He’s filled the role at the wide open second base spot during the absence of several of the team’s veteran players which has caused fellow prospect Michael Chavis to slide over to first base.

Over the last few games, his average has dipped down to .250, but for a guy who’s missed so much time, you have to give his bat some time to catch up. Although through June 12th, he was hitting .333.

As of now, his numbers stand at the aforementioned .250 average, a .250 OBP and a .690 OPS.

His heroics that should have grasped the attention of the casual Red Sox fan came in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday’s matinee game against the Baltimore Orioles. The lowly and downright atrocious Orioles took a 3-2 lead on the Red Sox following the bottom of the eighth inning. With a needed sweep on the line for the Red Sox who are slowly chipping away at the division leader(s), getting a win here might not have been necessary exactly, but it certainly would have helped. And Marco Hernandez put the Red Sox back into the game with an opposite-field rip to left center field, tying the game back up at three apiece.

Hernandez not only adds to the depth of the team’s roster, but there’s a distinct possibility that he could be in the plans as the Red Sox everyday second baseman at some point in the future. Truth be told, this is what I always assumed the plan was anyway for the infielder.

He was displaying spurts of starter like qualities with consistency and solid fielding ability ahead of the injury. It appeared as though he was on track to being the successor of Dustin Pedroia who was approaching the finale of his career.

If you take a look at the Red Sox roster and the expiring contracts, there are going to be holes in the infield that are going to have to be filled and Hernandez could be the answer, perhaps still at that second base slot. With veteran Mitch Moreland’s contract running up following the 2019 season, first base has the potential to be vulnerable. Being that he was brought up as a corner infielder, the idea of slotting Chavis into that role wouldn’t be a surprise by any stretch. And there’s even the potential that the team moves Rafael Devers over from third to first, making him a fixture there for the foreseeable future. Either option works, but no matter which choice is made in that regard, that still leaves second base needing a regular, everyday player–assuming that Dustin Pedroia’s career is over.

This was the biggest question mark for the future. If Hernandez continues to progress and prove that he can survive as a potential starter at the Major League level, look for him to be eventually penciled in on a daily basis into the Red Sox lineup.

Now we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. Remember, Hernandez did just return from what was basically a two-year absence. But the ability was there in 2017, so now it’s a question of whether or not he can bring that back on a consistent basis.

His scouting report had read that his ceiling is a second-division starter which is accurate. But nonetheless, I have high hopes for Hernandez and have for years. Keep an eye on Marco Hernandez, because the raw talent is there. He very well could be apart of the club’s long-term future plans.