Blue Jays: Five lesser known prospects to keep an eye on in 2023

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Adrian Hernandez, RHP

The next pitcher on my watchlist is a little older than the previous prospects we've looked at, but at 22-years-old, Adrian Hernandez has been pitching in the Blue Jays system since 2018 and progressed to Triple-A in 2022.

After signing with the club in 2017 out of Mexico, Hernandez has made a name for himself with his incredible 65-grade changeup. MLB Pipeline, which has the righty ranked as the Jays' 24th overall prospect, asserts that his offspeed offering is considered "one of the best pitches in the organization."

Geoff Pontes of Baseball America calls the young reliever's changeup an outlier and the best changeup outside the top 100 prospects.

In 2021, across three levels from Low-A to Double-A, Hernandez posted a 2.74 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with 108 strikeouts in 62.1 innings for a ridiculous 15.59 K/9. Per a scouting report, he accomplished this mainly using his changeup, with a low-90s fastball and a rarely-used slider to help keep hitters off balance.

In 2022, he pitched primarily at Triple-A but made rehab appearances in the FCL, Low-A and Double-A after missing time with an injury. He finished the campaign with a 4.22 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, a .206 average against and a 12.45 K/9.

MLB Pipeline thought the talented reliever might make an appearance in the majors by the end of the 2022 season, but the injury seemed to hold him back. Now he'll be looking to earn a promotion during the 2023 season. While he's not currently on the 40-man roster, Hernandez might be on the radar if the Jays have injuries in the bullpen or need a spot-opener at some point during the season.