Hernandez has perfect day for Hot Rods

Rays No. 19 prospect goes 4-for-4, blasts go-ahead homer

Ronaldo Hernandez belted 27 to win Home Run Derby at the Midwest League All-Star Game. (Paul R.Gierhart/MiLB.com)

By Rob Terranova / MiLB.com | July 8, 2018 8:49 PM

There are no signs of a post-Home Run Derby title hangover for Ronaldo Hernandez.

Continuing to flourish since his All-Star accolade, the 19th-ranked Rays prospect capped a 4-for-4 afternoon by blasting the go-ahead homer in the ninth inning as Class A Bowling Green topped Fort Wayne, 4-3, on Sunday at Parkview Field.

Gameday box score

Hernandez has collected four dingers and nine RBIs since winning the Derby at the Midwest League All-Star Game on June 19. He's also reached safely in 12 straight games and 14 of 15 since the break.

"This is what he's been doing all year. He comes ready to work every day and he's locked in," said Hot Rods manager Craig Albernaz. "At the plate, he's just on time with every pitch and he's ready to do damage. Tonight, they made a mistake to him and gave him something that he could handle and he hit it hard. It's been fun to watch. And that was a big home run to get the win."

The 20-year-old led off the second inning with a line-drive single to left field off left-hander Aaron Leasher. He tried to hustle it into a double, but he was thrown out by Robbie Podorsky. In the third, Hernandez turned around a 2-2 offering from Leasher and hammered it again into left for another base hit.

Hernandez blooped a single into center on an 0-2 pitch from Leasher in the fifth.

"I wouldn't say this is what we expected from him. But tonight is a perfect example of what he's been doing all season," Albernaz said. "He's very selective up there. He's always got a great plan at the plate. He comes in here every day and works hard with [Bowling Green hitting coach Manny Castillo] and they get after it. You can see he's laying off some good pitches, and when mistakes are made, he's putting a good swing on them."

After working a six-pitch walk against righty Dylan Coleman in the seventh, Hernandez stepped to the plate in the ninth with the game tied, 3-3. Southpaw Travis Radke (1-4) started him with a high fastball out of the zone, then tried to come back with something down that the Colombia native deposited well beyond the fence in left-center for his 14th roundtripper.

Hernandez ranks second in the league in homers, RBIs (59), and slugging percentage (.564) but tops the circuit with one long ball every 18.36 at-bats. Sunday marked his second four-hit game of the season after going 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored on May 9 against Peoria. And his contributions to the club stretch well beyond just what he is doing with his bat.

"I can't say enough about his defense and the plays he's been making behind the plate," Albernaz said. "He's been much improved there and it's because he puts in as much work on his defense as he does with his hitting. He made some wonderful blocks back there tonight to keep the game exactly where it was.

MiLB include

"He's a leader of this team. He's taken the role as a catcher of being a leader behind the plate, but also being a leader in the clubhouse. We're very fortunate that we've got a great group of guys here and he fits right in with that perfectly. He's just a good dude, he's funny but he also knows when it's time to get down to business. He's a big part of what we do here."

Tampa Bay's No. 17 prospect Tobias Myers gave up three runs on six hits and a walk with two punchouts over six frames for Bowling Green. Kyle Goodbrand (1-0) picked up his first full-season win after yielding one hit and fanning one over two scoreless innings. Orlando Romero struck out two in a perfect ninth for his second save.

One day after falling a homer shy of the cycle, Padres No. 17 prospect Jeisson Rosario knocked in the TinCaps' second run with a triple in the third.

Rob Terranova is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @RobTnova24. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

View More