CINCINNATI -- Perhaps the Reds had to summon right-hander Ariel Hernandez sooner that might have normally. But they needed an arm for the bullpen and knew Hernandez had a power arm, as well.The 25-year-old did not disappoint in his Major League debut during an 11-7 Reds loss to the Brewers.
CINCINNATI -- Perhaps the Reds had to summon right-hander Ariel Hernandez sooner that might have normally. But they needed an arm for the bullpen and knew Hernandez had a power arm, as well.
The 25-year-old did not disappoint in his Major League debut during an 11-7 Reds loss to the Brewers. Called upon with two outs in the fourth inning to replace starter Amir Garrett, Hernandez -- who is the Reds' No. 23 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com -- struck out five without allowing a hit or walk over 2 2/3 innings.
The Reds have been excited about Hernandez's arm since he joined the organization last season. His control has always been a question mark, but that's been coming around since Spring Training.
"I know he did a lot of really good work with [pitching coach] Danny Darwin in Double-A [Pensacola], getting his delivery figured out," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I think he wants, in the worst way, to throw the ball over the plate. It's a big fastball-curveball combination. It's every bit of 96-to-100 [mph] with a power curveball. It's as good of a breaking ball as we have in the system, and the challenge was getting him in the zone."
According to Statcast™, four of Hernandez's 30 pitches reached 100 mph, which already ranks him sixth in the Majors for the season. His 98.9 mph average on his four-seam fastball ranks him third in the Majors behind only Albertin Chapman and Trevor Rosenthal.
"If I throw less than that, something is wrong with me," Hernandez said via translator Julio Morillo.
The 23.3 percent swinging strike rate (seven swinging strikes out of 30 pitches) was more than twice the league average of 11.3 percent.
Hernandez's curveball averaged a spin rate 3,022 revolutions per minute, and it was 3,070 when he struck out Jesus Aguilar in the sixth inning. Based on a minimum of 10 curveballs, his RPM average already leads the Majors.
"I just want to work hard and want to be here as a teammate to help the team," Hernandez said. "I believe in myself, that's the first thing."
Hernandez joined Tony Cingrani (Sept. 9, 2012) and Angel Torres (Sept. 12, 1977) as the third reliever in Reds history to strike out five batters in his big league debut.
Hernandez spent last season at Class A Dayton and Class A Advanced Daytona and was a Minor League Rule 5 pick in December 2015. He spent his first six professional seasons with the Giants after being signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2009 and never got above Rookie ball. Hernandez missed all of 2014 in the D-backs' organization because of a right shoulder strain and spent some time in independent league baseball in 2015.
Until he was called up on Sunday from Double-A, he was 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in eight appearances.
"If he can throw the ball like that he would be pitching here with some regularity," Price said.
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.