Royals outfield prospect Diego Hernandez is set to miss the next three to four months of action after dislocating his non-throwing shoulder yesterday, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports.
Hernandez, 22, was added to the 40-man roster back in November ahead of this offseason’s Rule 5 draft. Hernandez signed with the Royals as an international free agent during the summer of 2017 for a $200K bonus, a figure which made up the majority of Kansas City’s pool during the 2017-18 signing period. Hernandez grades out as a quality defensive center fielder and a plus-plus runner according to prospect reports, which allowed him to steadily rise throughout the Royals’ minor league system from his debut in 2018 until his full season debut in 2021.
Across 79 games played almost entirely at the Single-A level in 2021, Hernandez struggled with the bat, slashing .263/.346/.320 in 327 plate appearances. He did manage to swipe 35 bags in 46 attempts, however, and that speed combined with his center field defense once again earned him a promotion to High-A in 2022. Hernandez appeared to unlock another gear in 2022, and began showing with the bat to the tune of a .279/.343/.418 slash line in 83 games at the High-A level.
This surge in offensive capability came largely on the back of newfound power; Hernandez swatted seven home runs, 17 doubles, and four triples in those 83 games, compared to just two home runs, 13 doubles, and four triples in his 131 career minor league games headed into the 2022 season. That power boost earned Hernandez a late season call-up to the Double-A level, where he continued to impress by hitting .298/.357/.379 in 32 games. In addition to his step forward with the bat, Hernandez retained the speed that helped him on the basepaths and in the field, swiping 40 bags in 52 attempts across both levels in the 2022 season.
This showing in 2022 surely made protecting Hernandez from the Rule 5 draft an easy decision for the Royals, and put a big league debut during the 2023 season into play as a reasonable possibility. Obviously, this injury puts that possible trajectory in doubt, as Hernandez will miss the first half of the season and have little time to prove himself big league ready in 2023. Hernandez joins fellow Royals outfielder Drew Waters in starting the season on the injured list, though the oblique injury Waters is suffering from is expected to keep him out of action for much less time than Hernandez’s shoulder woes. The Royals still have plenty of outfield depth, as Kyle Isbel, Edward Olivares, Nate Eaton, Franmil Reyes, MJ Melendez, and Hunter Dozier represent some of the options still at manager Matt Quataro’s disposal.
Guess the big headlines today are Sans Diego.
I wouldn’t exactly say the Royals have plenty of OF depth with the lack of CF options. Isbel is better suited to a corner spot. 3 of the 5 are starting and Reyes is a DH if he makes the team. Royals should add Jackie Bradley on an NRI for insurance.
Nobody should add JBJ, even on an NRI. He would just take ABs away from a more deserving player.
I clicked on Diego’s name. The BRef info lists him as an 18 year old pitcher from Mexico. This can’t be right.
Here is the correct link:
If his height & weight are correct, this kid needs to fill out. 6’ 0” tall but only weighs 150 lbs? He could use a solid 20-30 lbs of muscle on that frame. It could help prevent future injuries like this one.
Ok at least I learned that the Bombers Dominican summer league team is affiliated with the Yankees……
….while making a diving catch…. (if you wanted to know)
Hope he recovers well. A silver lining, Tyler Tolbert came in for him and had a great game (older player). Also had a heart warming interview. Probably a fluke, but another cool thing about Tolbert, stole 60 bags in the minors with 0 caught stealing. Pretty rad. Hernandez’s injury may give Tolbert a lane.
There goes the Royals World Series chances now!