Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez has to start full-time in the outfield
After showing flashes of potential at the plate last season and mashing this Spring, Teoscar Hernandez needs to start full-time in the outfield.
The Blue Jays have a lot of exciting young players that will be playing their first full season, some making their MLB debuts, or are on the cusp of making that move. When people talk about the future of this team the names that usually come up are the likes of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Danny Jansen, and more, and there’s good reason for that.
This team saw a great deal of veteran turnover this past winter, but there are some familiar names still hanging around like Kevin Pillar, Justin Smoak, and others who will transition into more of a leadership role this season.
Caught somewhere in between is a player like Teoscar Hernandez, who had his first full season in the big leagues last year with the Blue Jays after he was acquired the year before from the Astros. He had a successful cup of coffee in 2017, and last year came with some mixed results, mostly on the defensive side of the ball.
More from Jays Journal
- Matt Chapman has been exactly what the Blue Jays needed
- Blue Jays: The goalposts are moving in the right direction
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
This year’s outfield picture is a pretty muddy picture at the moment, even after Anthony Alford was sent back to minor league camp on Tuesday. They still have Hernandez, Pillar, Randal Grichuk, Billy McKinney, and Dalton Pompey in camp, and McKinney has reportedly been told he’ll make the team. It remains to be seen how the playing time will be split up, regardless of whether or not Pompey makes the club.
The assumption has always been that both Pillar and Grichuk would play full-time in centre and right, and that the battle would really come down to left field. However, after the way that Hernandez has performed this spring, and the work that he put in during Winter Ball during the offseason, I would argue that he needs to see a full-time opportunity on the defensive side of the ball.
I think the majority of Blue Jays fans would admit that Hernandez has shown enough promise to earn full-time at bats, but it would be a shame if that’s where his ceiling ended, especially when he looks more than athletic enough to handle outfield duties. I am more than aware of how poorly he performed last year in the outfield, but he’s actively working on that skill set and this is the type of season to allow him to grow, and even learn by failing a bit.
Let’s face it, this team isn’t planning on competing this season anyway, and when you consider that Hernandez has five years of contract control, there’s a greater chance that he’s a part of the long term picture than Pillar, or maybe even Grichuk. That said, if he’s going to be a part of the foundation of this team, he’s probably going to have to stick in the outfield.
Experience is the fastest and best way to getting him to where he needs to be, and with all due respect to McKinney, or even Pillar, I don’t want to see Hernandez in the DH slot more than occasionally, mostly because of the lost opportunity to develop his defensive skills. If you can do that, he’s a pretty valuable player, and one that’s affordable and under control for a long time. Sounds like another foundational piece to me, and here’s hoping he can take that step forward next year.