Pittsburgh Pirates: Minor League Free Agents Who Could Help With Depth

The Pittsburgh Pirates could sign these minor league free agents as depth additions to their system.
Jun 17, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher James Kaprielian (32) throws a
Jun 17, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; Oakland Athletics pitcher James Kaprielian (32) throws a / Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports
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Ronaldo Hernandez

In the late-2010s, Ronaldo Hernandez was one of the better catching prospects in baseball with the Tampa Bay Rays. However, Hernandez, who’s meal ticket to the big leagues was his bat, hasn’t developed as one would hope. He recently elected minor league free agency, and is looking for a team in 2024.

Herandnez’s .242/.336/.445 triple-slash and .344 wOBA for the Boston Red Sox's Triple-A affiliate don’t look bad on paper. But once you put it into the context of the International League in Triple-A, it’s not all that impressive. The league average triple slash at that level was .261/.356/.438, all aside from the slugging percentage were better than what Hernandez posted. Once adjusting for the rest of the hitter friendly environment, Hernandez ended up with a 93 wRC+.

Hernandez has never been one to strike out much, and his 17.6% K% is about what you’d expect from him. However, he’s consistently posted below average walk rates. His 10.4% walk rate is much better than what he’s accustomed to, and much closer to league average.

One of the main concerns about Hernandez is his defense. He struggles greatly with keeping the ball in front of him. He allowed five passed balls in less than 450 innings. He allowed a dozen or more PBs on five different occasions, none of which saw him catch more than 717 innings in a season. Hernandez’s power is his calling card, and has a career isolated slugging percentage of .182. He has hit 15+ home runs in four different seasons. When he gets a hold of one, it goes far. 

Herandnez will not usurp Endy Rodriguez, or Henry Davis. But catching is a position you can never have too much depth at. Why not sign Hernandez to a non-guaranteed deal and stash him at Triple-A? I’m not expecting him to pan out, but there are definitely worse Triple-A catchers out there, and for a guy with former prospect pedigree, who knows. Maybe he turns things around.