Ed Wade’s last move as the Astros G.M. was the signing of Diory Hernandez to a minor league contract. Hernandez had been a member of the Atlanta organization since being signed by the Braves as an 18 year-old in 2002. Hernandez has seen action in the big leagues in each of the last three seasons but has failed to impress.
A native of shortstop city, San Pedro de Macoris, Hernandez enters his age 28 season battling for a spot on the Astros roster. With Jed Lowrie slated to be the starter at short, Hernandez will be in direct competition with Marwin Gonzalez for the backup role. Gonzalez is more likely to stick with the big league club for a couple of reasons. Marwin is a Rule 5 draftee, so he can’t be sent to the minors. If Gonzalez doesn’t make the club he must be offered back to his original team. Hernandez has slightly better offensive numbers in the minors but most of his success has come after age 24. Gonzalez will be entering his age 23 season this year.
After putting together a nice run at AAA from 2008 through 2010 Hernandez slumped badly last season. He will need to have a nice spring to make the Astros Opening Day roster. Although nothing is set in stone, I would have to bet against him. The Astros have made it clear that Spring Training will provide players with every opportunity to impress the coaches and win a job. The Astros have a new owner, a new G.M. and a new philosophy heading into 2012. Diory Hernandez has a chance to make a fresh start with a new team and take his game to the next level. Is Hernandez up to the challenge? We will soon find out.