It sure feels like the New York Mets have hit a home run with their deadline deals this season. It seems like every night that we have gotten a positive scouting report on the Mets’ prospects acquired in trades and those players litter the top of lists ranking the organization’s best prospects. The deals really started with the David Robertson trade to Miami for Marco Vargas and Ronald Hernández, two young players with exceedingly high upsides. We’ve already covered Vargas on Minor League Mondays so this week we’ll shift the focus to Hernandez, the other player the Mets got for Robertson.
Hernandez, who will turn 20 next month, signed with the Marlins as an international free agent in 2021 and received an $850,000 signing bonus from Miami. After spending the 2021 season in the Dominican Summer League, the Marlins brought Hernandez stateside last summer and the acclimation to playing in America took some time. Hernandez repeated the Florida Complex League with Miami this season and got off to a strong start, hitting .298 with three home runs, 15 RBIs and a .915 OPS in 31 games.
That performance helped attract the attention of the Mets, who acquired him in the Robertson deal, assigning both Hernandez and Vargas to their FCL affiliate. Hernandez continued hitting for the Mets, hitting .286 with a home run, 11 RBIs and a .995 OPS in 14 games. The organization was sufficiently pleased with the progress both players made and promoted Hernandez and Vargas to Low-A St. Lucie, where they finished the season.
Scouts view Hernandez, who is currently ranked as the Mets’ 20th-best prospect according to MLB.com, as a better defensive catcher at this stage of his career. Hernandez is a strong receiver who can do well both blocking balls behind the plate and throwing out base runners. The key to Hernandez’s big-league future will be how he develops as a hitter, particularly as he gains more experience and muscle with a fully developed frame.
Hernandez has demonstrated solid contact skills throughout this season and could contribute double-digit home run pop as he grows older. The positive for the Mets is that they have a lot of catching prospects, affording them the time to have Hernandez develop at his own pace. Hernandez will likely begin 2024 with St. Lucie, where he could spend the whole year if necessary since the Mets already have Francisco Alvarez at the big-league level and Kevin Parada at AA Binghamton. There is no such thing as having too many catchers in an organization and Hernandez could be an important depth piece for the Mets down the road.