Halos' third-round pick a story of perseverance

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi ace Hernandez leads Day 2 picks

June 6th, 2018

ANAHEIM -- After drafting two high-school position players on Day 1 of the Draft, the Angels took seven right-handed college pitchers among their eight selections for Rounds 3-10 on Tuesday.
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The Draft concludes on Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 beginning on MLB.com at 9 a.m. PT.
Round 3: RHP Aaron Hernandez, 21, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Hernandez missed the 2017 season for academic reasons, but bounced back to have a solid 2018, posting 4.45 ERA with a 102/41 strikeout to walk ratio over 14 starts as the ace of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's rotation. His comeback was tough, and coach Scott Malone wasn't sure Hernandez would return.
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"I was down, call it what it was, I was disappointed," Malone said.
Hernandez failed two classes, and Malone was at the point where he did not want Hernandez back. When Corpus Christi's pitching coach suggested Malone allow Hernandez to return, he had a terse response.
"For what? Forget that guy, man," Malone said.
But after sleeping on it, Malone knew he would have to serve as a mentor, a guiding light for a young man with so much talent. In a small town like Corpus Christi, word travels fast.
"You go out to dinner, and the guy serving me dinner tells me, 'Hernandez better be making his grades, or I'll whip his tail,'" Malone said. "He's a borderline celebrity in our town, and to have an entire year off the radar was very humbling for a 20-year-old kid."
Malone said the ordeal ultimately helped Hernandez grow as a person.
"It humbled him, it changed his demeanor," Malone said. "He became more of a leader for us. I think our guys looked up to him a little bit more because of what he had been through."
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Through it all, Hernandez persevered, remaining with the school when he could have transferred, and he showcased the stuff that made him the No. 93 overall pick on Tuesday.
And that stuff is electric. Hernandez's repertoire is highlighted by his fastball, which ranges from 92-98 mph with sink. He also has three offspeed pitches that are regarded as above-average.
"That's what's made him, obviously, a third-round pick for the Angels," Malone said. "He's throwing 96, 98, throwing a tight slider for strikes, and he's still got an above-average changeup.
"But I knew that he was gonna have nights when his slider was his best pitch, like he did in a home game against UC Santa Barbara, when he struck out 12 or 13. ... Andrew Checketts [head coach of UC Santa Barbara], who has been to a College World Series, point blank told me, 'Malone, that's hands down the best starter we're going to see all year.' That's a pretty high comment for him to make the second week of the season." 
Round 4: RHP Kyle Bradish, 21, New Mexico State
Bradish is the highest drafted prospect out of New Mexico State in the program's history.
"Another special day in putting the finishing touches on a special season for Aggie baseball," head coach Brian Green said in a statement. "Congrats to Kyle and the Bradish family. Absolutely tremendous people and Kyle has beyond earned this opportunity."
His best pitch is the fastball, which sits at 90-94 mph, and he has a solid curveball and changeup to go with it. In 17 starts this season, Bradish has posted a 2.67 ERA with 140 strikeouts.
Round 5: RHP/OF William English, 17, Western International High School (Detroit)
English is listed as an outfielder and right-handed pitcher, making him a potential two-way player in an organization that already showcases phenom .
"I think if any organization is open to it, it's us," director of scouting Matt Swanson said. "I think you're starting to see an evolution of organizations who are open to drafting a player like that and just saying, 'We'll see. We'll just develop you and see where your path takes you.'"
English is committed to Tennessee and was the 2018 Rawlings-Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American (Central - All Region 1st Team).
Round 6: RHR Austin Warren, 22, UNC Wilmington
Warren is 8-0 on the season with a 1.75 ERA and two saves over 51 1/3 innings in 28 appearances in relief.
In his team's CAA Tournament, Warren threw 57 pitches in relief on Friday before going back out to pitch the final three innings of Saturday night's championship, striking out five and allowing no runs to earn his second save of the tournament.
Round 7: RHR Andrew Wantz, 22, UNC Greensboro
Wantz, a right-handed closer from Holly Springs, N.C., had 19 career saves for UNC Greensboro, tying a program record. He struck out 278 batters and had a 3.80 ERA -- with two All-conference honors -- over his three seasons with the Spartans. This season, he went 6-0 with a 2.95 ERA over 26 relief appearances, with 10 saves and an 81/18 strikeout to walk ratio.
Round 8: RHR Tyler Smith, 22, Canisius College
Smith anticipated being drafted in 2017, but he wasn't. So he was especially relieved when he heard his name called in the eighth round on Tuesday.
"It's an absolute honor," Smith told TribLive. "I'm blessed beyond words."
Smith has gone 2-3 with a 0.98 ERA over 25 relief appearances with 10 saves for his junior college this season.
Round 9: RHS Jake Lee, 22, Oakland University
Lee, from Highland, Mich., tossed a one-hit complete game earlier this season, breaking a program record with a career-best 14 strikeouts in Oakland's victory over UIC in March. This season, he has gone 7-4 with a 4.54 over 13 starts and 75 1/3 innings, with a 112/35 strikeout to walk ratio.
Round 10: RHR Ben Morrison, 23, Western Kentucky University
Morrison missed the 2016 season with a torn labrum, something that actually was a bit of a blessing in disguise. Morrison, a biology major and pre-med student, said that the experience helped him intensify his interest in medicine, according to Western Kentucky University. It's something he wants to pursue later in his career -- to help athletes through their injuries.
As the team's closer this season, he went 3-4 for a 2.21 ERA, with seven saves over 36 2/3 innings in 19 relief appearances.