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An impressive physical specimen and still just 23 years old (DOB: November 21, 1994) despite repeating levels already three different times in his career, Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Elier Hernandez makes for an interesting follow with abundant physical tools who has thus far been unable to flash them consistently enough push his way into a conversation for a future big league role. Powerful with a projectable and impressive build, Hernandez was finally killing the ball this summer splitting time between High-A Wilmington and Double-A Northwest Arkansas — in 46 games, he was slashing .317/.355/.489/.844 with 11 doubles and five home runs in 186 at-bats — before an injury ended his season in early June. As luck would have it, we saw him just days before that injury in his final full series of the summer, on the road in Frisco.

The Kansas City Royals opted to send Elier Hernandez to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time once he recovered after the year, and it’s there that Baseball Census observed him for the second time in 2017, playing outfield for the Surprise Saguaros and facing some of the best pitching prospects in the game now fully healthy and ready for action. In 19 games for Surprise, the outfielder slashed .206/.286/.309/.595 with four doubles, a home run, seven walks, and 16 strikeouts across 77 plate appearances.

Below, you’ll find our full, end-of-year Elier Hernandez scouting report, including tool grades, multiple game/at-bat videos, and projection notes. For our mid-summer notes on the Kansas City Royals prospect from back in July, please click here.

Elier Hernandez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017

Dates observed in 2017: May 30 - June 1; Arizona Fall League

Hit (40)
Above-average bat speed with quick hands and feel for turning on pitches and keeping hands in; lightning quick to read fastball and execute on inner half. Athletic at the plate with good balance; some ability to adjust to off-speed even when caught out on front foot. Good feel for the barrel with some manipulation and surprisingly good pitch recognition for a power hitter, but tendency to get over-aggressive and pull happy in an approach that lacked nuance at AFL. Particularly susceptible to hard in/soft away, and has proven slow to adjust situationally and go the other way with authority. Likely will remain a below-average hitter who will be exploited by his own over-aggressiveness, but power profile will boost his value.

Power (60)
Above-average bat speed with great, quick hands; good path to the ball with ability to manipulate barrel and produce consistent leverage in the air, particularly with pitches on the inner half. Power comes primarily to pull side; would do well to expand it the other way and go to right-center field with some aggressiveness when pitched away. All told, relatively short, simple stroke for a power hitter with broad shoulders and a strong upper half; will play well against velocity and give him a margin of error to make some adjustments as he grows. Impressive raw strength through hands and wrists; able to produce pop without leveraging significant leg kick/stride like many power hitters; says a lot about his natural physical strength.

Glove (45)
Slightly below-average to average here; nothing special on defense but should be reliable enough in a platoon role. Profiles well for a corner outfield job in particular, though his athleticism has landed him in center field throughout his career, as well. Good overall athlete, if unremarkable in the outfield.

Arm (50)
Admittedly would like to see him throw a bit more before grading him out; arm could be a 55 for me, but I’ll err conservatively here until I see more. Good raw arm strength with some carry; arm clearly already profiles well in right field, though inconsistent in accuracy and execution to target in my shorter looks. Bulkier upper body; curious to see if throwing mechanics and arm strength maintain/improve with age.

Speed (50)
Had him 4.32 and 4.36 up the line to first during AFL; athletic runner with good, long strides, but lacking in first-step quickness that’d make him a burner on the base paths. Tool profiles significantly better in the outfield when he can take a few strides to get up to top speed. Strong, lean body should keep him athletic throughout career, though speed may never be a significant base running tool as he ages. (To that end: 35 career stolen bases, but only nine in last two years—180 total games—since the start of 2016).

Show-me year ahead. Very promising 2017 lost to injury, multiple repeat-level years in seasons before that, and yet he’ll still play the 2018 season as a 23-year-old in upper minors. Still plenty of time to make good on athleticism and projection, but now is the time to do it. Power profiles well to set him up for big league time one day, if it can only start to come together this summer.

Elier Hernandez Scouting Report, Kansas City Royals — 2017 Game Video

Elier Hernandez Scouting Report — Notes, Analysis & Projection

Every year is an important year for every single minor leaguer needing to prove themselves in this difficult game, but even more than the general grind, this coming year will be a particularly important one for Elier Hernandez with the Kansas City Royals. Age is still on his side, but a season-ending injury at the wrong time in 2017 derailed what would’ve been a breakout year and Hernandez can ill afford another setback now after the stops and starts of his last several seasons. There are plenty of workable tools here that set Hernandez apart; his power alone should carry him into an easy corner outfield platoon role, and if he proves he can hit beyond that and develop defensively, he may still have a shot at an everyday role, even if only as a second-division regular.

Most immediately, he’ll begin 2018 either back with Northwest Arkansas, or at Triple-A Omaha; there’s an outside shot he does enough to jump to Kansas City by the end of the summer, but I’m not bullish on his hit tool adjusting and his power profile showing out that quickly in the upper minors, small 2017 sample aside. If everything goes well, expect him to be in the running for a 25-man roster spot with the Kansas City Royals when the following spring training starts 14 months from now. If, on the other hand, he struggles out of the gate in 2018 and spends the year underachieving in the Texas League, he may get lost in the shuffle and fall into an up-and-down/organizational depth future.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Utility/platoon in a corner outfield role with power as carrying tool; must prove himself with solid show-me 2018 to prove growth and stay on timeline (45)

MLB ETA: 2019

Did you like this Elier Hernandez scouting report? Get more prospects here:

Washington Nationals OF Daniel Johnson — CLICK HERE

Cleveland Indians RHP Luke Eubank — CLICK HERE

Seattle Mariners RHP Max Povse — CLICK HERE

Toronto Blue Jays OF Reggie Pruitt — CLICK HERE

Los Angels Dodgers OF Shakir Albert — CLICK HERE


More from our Elier Hernandez scouting report and other Kansas City Royals prospects:

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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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