BALTIMORE -- The future is now for Blue Jays rookie outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.Hernandez, who was acquired prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in a deal for lefty Francisco Liriano, made his Blue Jays debut during Friday night's 1-0 loss to the Orioles in 13 innings. He was one of five
BALTIMORE -- The future is now for Blue Jays rookie outfielder Teoscar Hernandez.
Hernandez, who was acquired prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline in a deal for lefty Francisco Liriano, made his Blue Jays debut during Friday night's 1-0 loss to the Orioles in 13 innings. He was one of five players who were officially added to Toronto's roster as part of the September callups earlier in the day.
The 24-year-old did not waste any time making a positive first impression. He doubled in the fifth inning and made a game-saving running catch at the wall in right field during the ninth inning of Toronto's eventual loss. It was easy to see why MLBPipeline.com has Hernandez ranked as the Blue Jays' No. 5 prospect.
"Shoot, I thought he looked great," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Great catch. He got the hustling double. Even that one ball, he got in front a little bit, almost snuck it over the shortstop's head, and that would have been the go-ahead run. The callups did a great job."
Hernandez might be with a new team, but he has been in the big leagues before and can take a certain level of comfort in the "been there, done that" feel to the bright lights. He appeared in 41 games for the Astros last season and hit .230/.304/.420 with four home runs and 11 RBIs. The highlight came in his Major League debut when he faced the Blue Jays and went deep off the same man for whom he was eventually traded.
The Dominican doesn't necessarily have a clear path to playing time in Toronto, but he has a better shot than he did playing for a contending Houston team that had a logjam of outfielders. In Toronto, Jose Bautista likely won't return for the 2018 season and with the club adamant about improving its defense, it remains to be seen what happens in left.
Hernandez believes his best position is actually in center, but he has been moved around before and will again. He's viewed by a lot of scouts as someone who has the potential to hit 20 home runs, steal 20 bases and provide above-average defence. It's the type of skill-set that has been hard to find on Toronto's aging roster and could open the door for an audition during next year's Spring Training.
"I don't want to think about that yet," Hernandez said. "I'm just going to keep working hard and try to get better every day. ... It depends on how I do here. I'm just going to try and do my best and stay with the team. Next year is another opportunity."
Hernandez's brief time with Triple-A Buffalo came to an end with a .222 average and six home runs with 22 RBIs, but those numbers only tell part of the story. He got off to an awful start following the July trade but recovered midway through August and finished strong.
Over his final nine games with Buffalo, Hernandez went 11-for-36 with eight extra-base hits -- including five homers -- and 12 RBIs. He was heating up at the right time and will try to carry that production into the the Majors.
"At the beginning, at the trade, I was excited. And then when I got to Buffalo, it was tough," Hernandez said. "I had a couple of bad games, and then I started getting back, getting better and getting my timing back. Then I was feeling good. Now that I'm here, it's even better and I'm so happy. I'm just going to keep working hard."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.