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2017 Red Sox top prospect voting: Marco Hernandez tries to find some playing time

Marco Hernandez has shown himself to be a fine bench piece, and now he tries to take the next step.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Last time around, I mentioned that we were getting to the point of the rankings in which we have to decide between proximity and upside. In that vote, the former won with Brian Johnson. At the number seven spot in our rankings, proximity won once again. Marco Hernandez is your seventh best Red Sox prospect, taking 39 percent of the vote.

Hernandez was signed as an international amateur free agent by the Cubs back in 2009 for an unknown (based on a somewhat thorough Google search) amount. After slowly but surely making his way to high-A in 2014 as a 21-year-old, the infielder was sent to Boston as the player to be named later in the Felix Doubront trade. At this point, his career started to take off. He was placed in Double-A Portland to start 2015 and hit well enough to earn a promotion to Pawtucket midway through the year. The following winter, he was placed on the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft, and he earned his first taste of the majors in 2016.

Last year may have been the best of Hernandez’ career, at least on the offensive side of the ball. He started the year in Pawtucket, but quickly earned a promotion to Boston and spent the year bouncing up and down between Triple-A and the majors. Against minor-league competition, he hit very well in his second go around the International League, hitting .309/.343/.444 in 237 plate appearances. Things didn’t go quite as well in the majors, but he held his own.

He did appear in 40 games as a member of the Red Sox, but he only accrued 56 plate appearances in that time. Still, he was able to show what kind of player he could be. His line didn’t jump off the page, but he did hit .294/.357/.373 in his first taste of the big leagues. What he lacked in power he was able to make up for in his ability to hit singles, and all told he ended up looking like a league-average hitter. On the other side of the ball, Hernandez can play all over the infield and earned time at third, second and shortstop last year. His best position is second base, but he can hold down the other two in a pinch.

Although they came in a small sample, his numbers show off what the scouting reports have said about Hernandez since he’s come to the Red Sox organization. The best part of his game on offense is his ability to put his bat on the ball and hit it on a line. His .350 BABIP from last year might come down a bit, but not by much. Those line drives and his solid speed should allow him to convert many hits. On the flip side, the 24-year-old doesn’t have the loft in his swing to turn some of that contact into power. I think it’d be fair to expect a bit more than his .078 Isolated Power from last year, but not a ton more. The key for him is to be able to reign in his aggressive approach enough to not get eaten alive. It worked out last year -- he struck out just 18 percent of the time — but more exposure could be bad news.

Next season, his best-case scenario is to spend the entire season as a utility player. The worst case is he continues to bounce back and forth between the majors and minors. Based on skill, I think he clearly should start the year on the Opening Day roster, but he has options remaining and that could hurt him. Either way, he’ll probably need to find another organization if he wants a starting role. Hernandez will try to use his opportunity this season to prove to another team that he’s worth it. Pretty good for the PTBNL for Felix Doubront.

Edit: Sorry everyone, forgot to add the updated rankings. Here they are.

  1. Andrew Benintendi
  2. Rafael Devers
  3. Jason Groome
  4. Sam Travis
  5. Bobby Dalbec
  6. Brian Johnson
  7. Marco Hernandez

Now, we move on to the number eight spot on our rankings. As always, vote below.