On June 12, Cesar Hernandez found himself batting .245 with just 14 RBI to his credit.
His poor play to kick off the season only added fuel to the fire for the Phillies to bring up J.P. Crawford and slide Freddy Galvis over to second base. That never panned out, of course, much of that having to do with the resurgence of Hernandez over the past two months.
The second baseman is now batting .298 and has more than doubled his production with 30 RBI. He’s also tagged three of his four home runs in that span.
His turnaround has been epitomized over his last six starts. Since Aug. 12, Hernandez is 12-for-24 (.500) with three RBI.
“I’m just focusing a little bit,” Hernandez said following his 3-for-4 game against St. Louis on Saturday. “I’m trying to see as many pitches as I can see, and that’s it.”
Hernandez really has elevated his game to the point where he leads the team in average, batting 18 points higher than Odubel Herrera. He’s also well on his way to capping off a career-defining season. Before this year, he never batted higher than his .289 clip as a rookie in which he saw action in 34 games. He became a full-time starter in 2015, a season that saw him bat .272 with 35 RBI, 57 runs, four triples and one home run.
All of those figures were career highs, and all of them are more than likely to be eclipsed this season if they haven’t already. Hernandez already has doubled his triple production with nine this year and has laced three more homers than he did the year prior. That even made manager Pete Mackanin crack a joke about Hernandez becoming a power-hitter in his postgame news conference on Saturday.
What’s this mean for Hernandez’s future in the organization?
Being just 26 years old, the Venezuelan product certainly has made a case for himself being a part of the core moving forward. Among the organization’s top 30 rated prospects, only one of them — Scott Kingery — is a second baseman. Kingery, though, is struggling a bit since being called up to Reading, batting .253 in 95 at-bats.
The aforementioned idea of shuffling Galvis to second base when Crawford’s inevitable call-up happens would force Hernandez out, but Galvis’ uninspiring play — a .235 average in 2016 — won’t be enough to push Hernandez out. When the No. 1 prospect in all of baseball does reach the big leagues, there’s almost a certainty now that his double-play mate will be Hernandez.
That’s definitely a pleasant surprise for someone who found himself trending downward in a hurry two months ago.