After a strong showing in spring training, the Giants opted to send Gorkys Hernandez to the minors where he slashed .302/.382/.421 with eight homers and 20 steals for Triple-A Sacramento. While those numbers were impressive across 108 games, they were accomplished by a 28-year-old in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Hernandez was eventually called up for the final month of the season and held his own with a .259/.298/.463 line in 57 at-bats. His main value to the club lies in his excellent defense and his right-handedness as a bench bat. If the Giants opt not to re-sign Gregor Blanco this offseason, then Hernandez would be a comparable replacement to serve as the team's fourth or fifth outfielder and late-inning defensive replacement.
Hernandez went 0-for-3 in Friday's 7-6 loss to the Padres. Hernandez -- who is filling in for the injured Denard Span (hip) -- had been deployed in the leadoff spot over the last few games, but an 0-for-9 slump forced the veteran into the eight-hole Friday. Span was used as a pinch hitter Friday, signaling an imminent return to the bench for Hernandez.
Hernandez went 2-for-5 with a double, a walk, four RBI and a run in Tuesday's win over Arizona. If you expected production like that out of Hernandez in the leadoff spot, you should play the lottery (or DFS). Once a somewhat well-regarded prospect, he can now be considered a journeyman, and when the Giants' outfield is fully healthy, he's the fourth choice for playing time. Don't get too hyped over this one big game.
Hernandez will play center field and bat leadoff against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports. With southpaw Patrick Corbin ready to take the mound Tuesday, manager Bruce Bochy opted to swap Hernandez in for lefty-hitting Denard Span. With two left-handed bats starting in the Giants outfield, Hernandez should see a start or two per week when opposing teams have a lefty on the hill.
Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBI in Saturday's win over the Padres. The speedy outfielder has struggled at the plate this spring, seeing his batting average rise to just .159 even with Saturday's two-hit performance. Despite his exhibition struggles, Hernandez is still considered a lock to make the Opening Day roster as the Giants' fourth outfielder. With two left-handed starters in the outfield, the 29-year-old should see a start or two per week when opposing teams have a southpaw on the bump.
It would be a surprise if Hernandez was not the Giants' fourth outfielder to start the season, Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area reports. This should come as no surprise considering the Giants let both Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco walk this offseason. Hernandez fits the bill as a classic fourth outfielder due to his plus speed and defense. In 503 plate appearances with Triple-A Sacramento last season, he batted .302 with eight homers and 20 steals. The home runs were likely inflated by the hitter-friendly nature of the PCL ballparks, but speed and contact are translatable to the majors.
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