All-Star Futures Game
I’ll be reporting from Anaheim for the next few days, and this year’s All-Star events kicked off with the Futures Game this afternoon. Pittsburgh had two representatives: RHP Bryan Morris (US Team) and OF Gorkys Hernandez (World Team).
Morris’ appearance in the game was brief, one pitch to be exact. He entered with two out in the seventh and got Hernandez to ground out to end the inning. Hernandez played the entire game, finishing 0-for-3 with a walk. This was Hernandez’s third Futures Game appearance.
I talked with both players at length prior to the contest (which the U.S. team won, 9-1). You’ll find a lengthy feature on Morris here, but I’ve included some stuff from Hernandez on the blog so he doesn’t get left out.
Hernandez flew to Anaheim after hitting .264 with 41 runs scored, 16 stolen bases 10 doubles, four triples, two homers and 23 RBIs in 81 games with Double-A Altoona. Those numbers have largely benefited from the 13-game hitting streak that Hernandez still carries. He has hit .313 since May 28.
Hernandez, 22, talked on Sunday about being disappointed with where he is at this point in the season and admitted that focus (well, a lack thereof) has been the biggest factor. The Pirates have mentioned this at being an issue in the past, too.
“Before, I really struggled with my concentration,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t very good. Now, I think it’s much better. I’m doing better. I’m paying more attention at the plate and I’m hitting more. I think it’s helping me now that I’m hitting the ball to right field and up the middle more.”
It was because of these disappointing early season numbers that Hernandez was particularly caught off guard when he received a Futures Game invite. (The fact that there aren’t many top non-US outfield prospects is the reason Hernandez was here.)
“When I see that I got the invitation to the All-Star Futures Game, it was a surprise for me and my family, too,” Hernandez said. “It’s exciting.”
I’ve talked to Hernandez a few times before, and I’ve described him in the past as confident-borderline-cocky and that came out again today. Well, maybe it was more on the cocky end of the spectrum.
When he talked about playing in this game, Hernandez said: “This game should help me a lot. If something happens [here], maybe Pittsburgh will rush me and see that I’m ready to play in the big leagues.”
Well, not quite, Gorkys. An 0-for-3 day won’t get you a call up. Hernandez did make a nice defensive running catch at the wall in the fifth, I’ll give him that.
Later in our conversation, Hernandez had this to say about still being in Double-A for the second straight season.
“I think I’m ready to play in Triple-A,” he said. “I just have to wait for the team to let me know. I thought I’d be at Triple-A park by now. But I have to keep working.”
Hernandez, who was one of three players the Pirates received in the Nate McLouth trade, still has a long way to go before anyone starts seeing him as a long-term piece in the franchise.
He is seen as an above-average defender, and Hernandez has made improvements on the basepath — he’s stealing more and being caught less.
But the offensive production just hasn’t consistently been there, and the focus issues are widespread.
Tomorrow, you will find coverage of Evan Meek (who will enjoy his first All-Star press gathering) and the Home Run Derby here. I’ll also be sure to snap some photos over the next few days to share for anyone wishing to experience the All-Star fun from afar.
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