Who doesn’t like cheering for a lifetime minor leaguer who finally breaks into the Majors at the age of 32? From day one, when Yadiel Hernandez was promoted to the Washington Nationals big league roster, we have been ardent supporters of the man who defected from Cuba to follow his dram of playing Major League baseball in America.
In a brief 2020 audition, Hernandez struggled to hit consistently, though left us with a great memory of his first career home run. The numbers were never really in Yadi’s favor for making the team in 2021, however, injury gave him the opportunity to play on a regular basis and he took advantage of his time in the lineup.
Nationals outfielder Yadiel Hernandez has been optioned to the minor leagues in what could be his final appearance with the big club.
With Juan Soto on the shelf in late April, Hernandez collected nine hits in four consecutive games. At the time he was the Nationals hottest hitter. When Soto came off the injured list the Nationals decided to keep Hernandez at the big league level, choosing to carry five outfielders. From May 5th on, Hernandez would make just three starts, none since May 9th, appearing 23 straight times as a pinch hitter since.
While Hernandez has hit at every level he’s played, aside from one year in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League where he hit 33 home runs, he does not possess much pop with the bat. A doubles hitter, yes, a home run hitter, not often.
After the bullpen was forced into action for 8.2 innings covering for an injured Max Scherzer ahead of the weekend games, pitching reinforcements were needed more than a fifth outfielder. Hernandez has been jettisoned to Triple-A, where he may not return to the Majors.
For Hernandez to be productive, he needs to play every day. WIth the starting outfield the Nationals have right now, there is no room for him. Fourth outfielder Andrew Stevenson is more versatile and offers late inning pinch runner’s speed as well. We could see Hernandez again, the one thing he has going for him is he is already on the 40-man roster. That gives him a slim chance to return, though barring multiple injuries, I’d say Yadi’s time to shine in the Majors is over.