César Augusto Hernández (born May 23, 1990) is a Venezuelan professional second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.
A native of Valencia, Carabobo in Venezuela, the Phillies signed Hernández as an undrafted amateur free agent at age 16. He slowly progressed through the lower levels of the Phillies' farm system, however ultimately caught speed upon reaching Class A, and from there took only three seasons to make his major league debut, substituting for Michael Young during the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies season. Later in the season, he dabbled as a center fielder, helping to replace an injured Ben Revere.Contents
After the Phillies signed him on July 2, 2006 as an amateur free agent at age 16, Hernández began his professional career in 2007, spending his first two seasons with the Venezuelan Summer League (VSL) Phillies. That year, he hit .276 with 8 triples in 54 games; he committed 15 errors. In the Venezuelan Summer League again in 2008, Hernández hit .315 with 19 stolen bases in 60 games, reducing his error total to 8. Between his two seasons in the VSL, he made 59 starts as a second baseman and 35 starts as a shortstop. He advanced a level in 2009, joining the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Phillies, with whom he played solely second base, and hit .267 with 13 stolen bases in 41 games. He also participated in the Florida Instructional League during the 2009 season.
Hernandez's improvement earned him another promotion in 2010, when he advanced to the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York–Penn League (NY-Penn), with whom he enjoyed significant success. He was named an NY-Penn all star, and his teammates voted him as their most valuable player (MVP). In 2010, he hit .325, including .391 against left-handed pitchers, and added 32 stolen bases. After the season, he played in the Venezuelan Winter League as a member of the Bravos de Margarita, the first of several seasons after which he would return home and continue to play baseball.Upper levels of the minor leagues (2011–12)
Entering the 2011 season, Baseball America ranked Hernandez the Phillies 14th-best prospect, and the best defensive infielder after the 2012 season. John Sickels, a minor league baseball analyst for SBNation.com, noted that, entering the 2011 season, Hernandez was an "overlooked" prospect with upper-echelon speed. In 2011, he played for the Clearwater Threshers, the Phillies' affiliate in Class A-Advanced, and amassed a .268 batting average, with 4 home runs and 37 runs batted in (RBIs). It was the first season during which he played in more than 100 games, appearing in 119, all at second base. In 2012, he split time between the Reading Phillies and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Phillies Double-A (AA) and Triple-A (AAA) affiliates respectively, combining to hit .291 with 2 home runs and 57 RBIs, stealing 21 bases. He was an Eastern League all star for his performance with Reading, earning his call-up to Lehigh Valley in August.Teetering on the brink (2013–14) Cesar Hernandez stands on third base with third base coach Juan Samuel
Hernandez began the season in AAA, but in May, Michael Young was placed on bereavement leave, and subsequently, Hernandez was promoted to the major leagues to fill Young's roster spot. On May 29, he made his debut, pinch hitting for Antonio Bastardo. Shortly after, he was optioned to AAA. With the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he was named to the all-star team. In July 2013, when Ben Revere sustained an injury, he was converted to a center fielder, a conversion he made quickly and effectively, garnering a call-up to the big leagues, as he was a "pleasant surprise". His manager, Dave Brundage, commented, "He's done very well offensively and now they’re trying to see if we can create a spot or find a spot and see if it's a fit or not." While with the big-league club, Hernandez played in 34 games, amassing a .289 batting average and a .344 on-base percentage to go along with 10 RBIs – he hit no home runs.
After the season, Hernandez traveled to his native Venezuela to play for the Venezuelan Winter League Bravos de Margarita, with whom he posted a .254 batting average, 2 home runs, and 15 RBIs; he stopped playing prior to the end of the season to rest prior to Phillies Spring training. He had played with Bravos de Margarita in the winter since the 2010 season. Entering the 2014 season, Hernandez drew comparisons to fellow reserve Freddy Galvis. While Galvis could play shortstop and had experience in the corner outfield positions, Hernandez could play center field and was a natural second baseman, and with Chase Utley's frequent injuries, he would likely see time there. Both players were expected to see significant time with the big-league team, predominantly due to the established core – players such as Utley, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins – being relatively old (in 2013, the Phillies average age was 28.4, the third-oldest in the Major Leagues) and injury prone over the preceding several seasons, leaving ample playing time for replacements such as Hernandez, especially considering the fact that he would be able to continue his development in the minor leagues after MLB granted the Phillies a fourth option year, essentially meaning that they could keep him in the minor leagues during the season without him having to clear waivers. Ultimately, he began the season on the major league roster, but was sent down to Reading (AA) in April to focus on honing his defensive skills at third base and shortstop.Second baseman of necessity (2015–present)
Entering 2015, analysts doubted his future with the major league club out of spring training, as several attempts to broaden his defensive versatility had failed. After Chase Utley was injured, Hernandez saw more playing time at second base and performed well enough that he was named starting second baseman even upon Utley's return, and eventually Utley was traded. Hernandez ended up being a "highlight in an otherwise pathetic showing" for the Phillies, who finished with 99 losses on the season. Hernández had a 12-game hitting streak from June 26 to July 7, 2015. Most anticipated he would start at second base on opening day in 2016, not necessarily because he was exceedingly good, but because there was no one else to replace him, and on a rebuilding club, an upgrade was not a high priority.
Hernández began the Phillies' 2017 season by hitting a leadoff home run on Opening Day, April 3, at Cincinnati. He was the first Phillie to hit a leadoff homer on Opening Day since Heinie Mueller in 1938 and the first in the majors since Alfonso Soriano in 2009.Personal
Hernandez was born in Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela, where he also resides in the offseason. Phillies' scouts Sal Agostinelli and Jesus Mendez signed him on July 2, 2006 at age 16. Especially while he was in the minor leagues, he spoke predominantly Spanish, and was uncomfortable speaking English with those he did not know well.
Hernández is married with one young daughter.See also