The brother duo that might one day hold down Cubs infield

March 2nd, 2022

MESA, Ariz. -- Cristian Hernández and his younger brother, Alexis, have pushed each other since they were kids playing baseball on diamonds in the Dominican Republic. They can now dream about standing side by side at Wrigley Field.

There is only question: Who will be at shortstop for the Cubs?

That made Cristian let out a laugh.

"Alexis might be a little stronger," he said with a smile, via team translator Will Nadal. "He could be at third base, and I'm at shortstop."

There is a lot of time for the Cubs and the Hernández brothers -- Cristian is 18 years old, while Alexis is just 17 -- to determine their best positional fit. For now, Chicago can dream on the duo and feel fortunate to have signed a pair of dynamic five-tool prospects.

Cristian spent this offseason in Arizona, where he participated in the Cubs' training program for select prospects. Now, the No. 3 Cubs prospect (per MLB Pipeline) is taking part in the team's minicamp at its Mesa, Ariz., complex prior to Minor League Spring Training.

Through that process, Cristian has continued to learn the ins and outs of the Cubs' facilities and resources, while diving into swing changes and defensive work with the many coaches at his disposal. It also gives him knowledge to relay to his younger brother to help Alexis' early development and comfort with the club.

"They definitely are going to have each other to lean on and support," said Louie Eljaua, the Cubs' vice president of international scouting. "That's obviously a big thing, especially having Cristian go through it first. He's going to have some insight on what's expected."

Alexis was ranked No. 18 on Pipeline's list of Top 50 international prospects this offseason and signed with the Cubs in January for $1.3 million. He is considered a plus runner with a strong arm, raw power and the potential to play up the middle (shortstop or center field are possibilities).

Cristian should be on the cusp of Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list, given the lofty comparisons he has received to date. Comparisons with Manny Machado and Alex Rodriguez have followed him, given his physical frame and the power in his bat.

"That's the goal one day -- to be that," Cristian said. "I've just got to keep doing my work, be focused, committed, just continue to do everything that I need to do to get to that point, hopefully, one day."

The elder Hernández signed with the Cubs one year earlier than his brother for a bonus of $3 million. He hits from the right side and flashed his all-around potential in his first pro season.

In 47 games in the Dominican Summer League, the shortstop hit .285 with an .822 OPS (including a .398 on-base percentage). Cristian had five homers, 22 RBIs, 21 stolen bases and drew 30 walks compared to 39 strikeouts.

While Cristian joked that his younger brother might have to move over to third base, Eljaua said the older brother could also make that move down the road, if needed. The Cubs' long-term plan, though, is for Cristian to stick at shortstop.

"You never know where the road to the big leagues takes you," Eljaua said. "We think, physically, he's going to be able to maintain that physique and we see him as a more physical shortstop -- maybe in the mold of A-Rod or someone of that nature.

"He has the skills and the athleticism and all the attributes that go with playing the position. But that, as we know, doesn't always play out that way because of need or just because of physically where his body is taking him. For sure, for now, he definitely projects to stay there. At least that's our plan."

Cristian said it will be good to have his brother in the same system, as they both like to offer critiques on the other's game. They have pushed each other since a young age, though Cristian believes he serves as the motivator in the family.

"I'd say we're both competitive," Cristian said. "I'd say that I'm the one that pushes him and our younger brother."

Wait, a third brother?

"He's still very young," Eljaua said with a laugh. "But for his age group, he's obviously impressive as well."

Cristian Hernández smiled when asked if there was room for another brother on the field.

"Yeah, of course," he said. "All three of us here with the Cubs."