Friday, April 23, 2010

PhoulBallz Interviews Phils Prospect Nick Hernandez

Nick Hernandez is a left-handed starting pitcher for the Phillies single A affiliate, the 2009 south Atlantic League Champion Lakewood BlueClaws. The 21-year-old prospect was drafted in the 12th round of the 2009 amateur draft out of the University of Tennessee. Through 3 starts this season, Hernandez has a 2-0 record with a 1.29 ERA and 20 strike outs and just 1 walk in 21 innings. Nick's father, also named Nick was a catcher in the Brewers system in the late 70's and early 80's. His uncle, Angel Hernandez, is a MLB umpire.

I had the opportunity to speak with the younger Nick this week. That interview lies ahead.


Nick, you've had some great success early this season. What can you tell me about your hot start?

It's kind of tying everything in that we learned in spring training and going out and pitching the way I have so far, just putting things together, working with the coaches, working with the coordinators. They teach you a lot of things in spring training, but there's only so much you can do throwing to the same teams over and over again, so it's facing new hitters....getting to know what you can do in an actual game, in a season that actually means something. It's been good so far, and hopefully it will continue.


You mentioned working with the coaches. How much of an effect has working with pitching coach Steve Schrenk had on your performance thus far?

It has a big effect. He's worked with some really good guys in our organization thus far. I know this is his second stint here in Lakewood and the guys he worked with here before are very close to the big leagues. So working with somebody, who has developed pitchers over the years, it's always a plus 'cause someday that could be (me). He knows what he's doing out there and he has a plan for us.


What do you think of the ballpark here in Lakewood?

Oh, it's beautiful. We're just blessed to have this facility. Everybody in spring training always talks about, "Hey, if you get a chance to play in Lakewood, you're gonna love it!" And, you know actually, I was in Williamsport, which is another good facility, but nothing compares to this, so far, that I've played in. I think we're real spoiled and hopefully, with these wonderful facilities, we can bring another championship here.


What is your pitch repertoire like and what are you working on improving?

Right now, I am a 4 pitch guy. I go with 4 and 2 seam (fastballs). I throw a curve ball, which I occasionally drop in there. I don't throw it much. It's just a thing to keep the hitters honest. My change up. And I am coming up on about 6 or 7 months of throwing a slider. It's been a work in progress. As for a breaking ball goes, that's probably my number one breaking ball right now and I occasionally drop my curve ball in.


Who was your favorite player growing up?

Probably Tom Glavine. I grew up in South Florida and TBS was big down there. Braves games were always on. Me being a left-handed pitcher, I just loved watching Glavine pitch. I pitch a lot like he does. He works his fastball to both sides of the plate, his change up is a very good pitch. But now since, he's moved on, I like to think I pitch like Mark Buehrle. He mixes his pitches well, and I'd say that's a pitcher that I look up to right now.


Which ballpark would you most like to pitch in one day?

Probably Boston. Looking at the facility...I went there in '99 for the all star game. That ballpark, you've had great baseball players go through there. The most famous players of all time have played there. Think of the whole team of the '27 Yankees who played there. You think of all the great Red Sox teams. All the teams in the American League that have played there. Endless, endless number of names who have gone through there. Hopefully, if I do make it to the big leagues one day, I'll be pitching in Philly, but hopefully, we can get interleague play and play the Red Sox one day.


What advice might you give to teenage players who are hoping to improve and play baseball beyond high school?

First thing is (for pitchers) try to stay away from a breaking ball at an early age. I didn't start throwing a curve ball till I was about 16 years old. My dad played professional baseball so he knew that you had to be fully developed to be mature enough to throw a breaking ball. The second thing I'd say is just hard work. If you do want to play (in college or) professionally, a goal that you can attain, it's gonna take hard work...Whatever you put into it is what you'll get out of it. If you sit around all day and go play a game without prepairing- mentally, physically- it's not gonna pay you back so well. So, I think whatever you put into it, you're gonna get out of it.


You mentioned your dad, also named Nick Hernandez, who played pro ball in the Brewers organization. What can you tell me about your dad's career?

My dad was a first round pick out of high school, 8th overall, back in 1978. He didn't play very long. He played, I believe, 4 years in the minor leagues, got up to double A at an early age. He always said he had a football attitude and he should have played football. He was a catcher, so to this day, he just turned 50 the other day, and he still catches my (off-season) bullpens. It's pretty cool. In the off-season it's tough to find somebody to throw with everyday and when he's around, I definitely throw with him.


What is your favorite baseball movie?

My favorite baseball movie is probably For Love of the Game. You know, Kevin Costner, he played a great role in that movie. Just going through that whole game, remembering all the things from his past...that's one of my favorite movies ever when it comes to baseball.

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1 comment:

JVILLAR said...

Hey Nick, if you read this I just want to say congrats on getting drafted by the Phills! I went to HHS with you 2002 - 2006. It is great to see guys like you and Gio out there representing for HHS and Hialeah! Good luck out there, looking forward to seeing your major league debut!