Friday, August 12, 2016

The Future is Here

Teoscar Hernandez's 6th inning home run tonight represented more than just an amazing first hit for a rookie ballplayer. It represented everything I have studied and researched and written for over five years. Teoscar was the first player who I became intrigued with even though I had never even seen him play. I really did tell the recently hired Jeff Luhnow to check him out and report back to me in an upcoming trip to the Dominican in late 2011.

 I wrote this about Teoscar way back in February 2012.
OF TEOSCAR HERNANDEZIt is really difficult to get much information on the prospects in the DSL, but just looking at Hernandez' stats is more than enough to get me excited about this kid.
He's listed as 6'2" 180 and will be 19 years old for the entire 2012 season. He was named MVP for the DSL team in 2011 for good reason. He hit .274/.360/.487/.847, led the team in doubles, triples and home runs and was tied for the lead in RBI's. In addition he had 16 stolen bases and 7 outfield assists to go with 5 errors over 62 games. Can you say 5-tool player? The potential is there. The right-handed hitter will need to hit better than .143 against lefties, as he did in 2011, but I'm very excited by his upside.
I asked Jeff Luhnow about this player as he was heading to the Dominican Republic last week. I received the following response, "Hernandez is a definite prospect from what I saw today." I would love to see Hernandez get brought up to the GCL this season to see what he can do.
And he did indeed come to the GCL in 2012 and ended the season with a stint at Low A Lexington to end the season. Teo went on to play in Quad Cities in 2013 and that was when I first met him. I was credentialed for a few games and was stalking Teoscar with my camera. Every time I tried to get a picture of him, he looked away.

Prior to the game, I was standing by the dugout and I told one of the other players that I had been trying to get a picture of Teoscar all day with no luck. Teo heard me and turned toward me, placed his sunglasses on his hat, smiled and posed oh so sweetly for me.

Teoscar Hernandez - 

Later than evening, I saw Teoscar play for the first time in person and I was officially smitten. He was so exciting to watch with his speed, strong arm and hint of more to come. I saw him several times over the next couple of years, interviewed him in 2014 in Lancaster and always pulled for him and wanted so badly for him to succeed.

I talked at length with then Lancaster Manager Rodney Linares about Teo. We both saw this immense talent and this immense work ethic, but neither of us really knew how it would all play out. Honestly, we still don't. Anything can happen to a rookie. Success in a single debut game is no guarantee. But when you start to know these players and see how hard they work and how much they want it, how much they support each other, it becomes personal. Even the pros have their favorites and can't totally control their bias for a player they like personally. I know I can't.

But I digress. As usual. One expects a Carlos Correa, a George Springer, an Alex Bregman, an A.J. Reed and a Lance McCullers to make it, to succeed at the highest levels. But I have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of players over the last five years. Not everyone saw Teoscar Hernandez. Not everyone saw Chris Devenski. Not everyone saw Joe Musgrove. Not everyone saw Tony Kemp. Not everyone saw Michael Feliz. Or Preston Tucker. Or Jandel Gustave. Or Tyler White. Or James Hoyt. But I did. I watched most of them play for years.

And now they're here. The future is here.

The fact that I saw something in a Teoscar Hernandez when he was on no one else's radar makes me happy. To see him succeed at the highest level makes me happier. To see a team carrying 10 rookies, all of them good people who I've seen work and grow and strive to be their best makes me the happiest.

I almost want to drop the mic and go away right now. Part of me feels that my work in helping you to get to know these young men who are going to represent the City of Houston is at an end. But then I see a Garrett Stubbs or an Erasmo Pinales or a Ryan Hartman and I fall in love all over again, just as I did with Teoscar Hernandez. So I have no choice but to follow and to write and to cheer on these young men as they follow their dreams.

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