Cristian Hernandez won’t turn 19 until December, but he’s already ranked as high as No. 2 among Cubs prospects because of his all-around athletic tools and incredibly advanced offensive skills. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, many have compared him to Manny Machado and Alex Rodriguez in terms of his frame and potential to fill out as he matures.
He hit .285 with an .822 OPS in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old last year and is now in Mesa playing in the Arizona Complex League. Through 17 games, Hernandez is batting .306 with a .774 OPS and two home runs. The latest of those is shown below and, while you can’t see where the ball ends up, that swing is enough to tell you this young man has a bright future.
— John Antonoff (@baseballinfocus) July 2, 2022
Depending on whether Brennen Davis is able to return this year from surgery to relieve pressure on a nerve in his lower back, it’s very possible Hernandez will take over the top spot on some lists. Given his incredibly high ceiling and the potential to impact the game in several facets, some evaluators might rank Hernandez No. 1 even if things go perfectly for Davis.
Between those two, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and James Triantos, the Cubs have to be feeling really good about the position-player pipeline they’ve established. Of course, only one of those players is above A-ball, and he’s currently rehabbing that aforementioned surgery. Moving down the list to Kevin Alcántara (7) and Owen Caissie (8) offers no other candidates who can help in Chicago prior to 2024.
That might help inform the nebulous timeline Jed Hoyer and Crane Kenney have shared in regard to spending when the time is right, which would mean waiting for another year or two. But having that kind of depth at the lower levels also means the Cubs could swing a trade or two without decimating the farm system, so perhaps something can be done earlier.
For now, let’s just set that all aside and enjoy the beauty of that swing.