Prospect Watch: Termarr Johnson, Jose Hernandez, Yoerys Hernandez

Monday was a slow day in the minors, with just the Dominican Summer League in action. There was a little bit of news. Bradenton first baseman Josiah Sightler and FCL Pirates pitcher Kevison Hernandez each took home Player/Pitcher of the week awards.  

The Pirates also sent pitcher Rob Zastryzny outright to Indianapolis yesterday after he cleared waivers. He was designated for assignment when Ji-Man Choi was activated off of the 60-day Injured List.

JOHN DREKER: Termarr Johnson, 2B, Bradenton (A)

On the same day the Pirates made the first overall pick in the 2023 draft, their 2022 first round pick wrapped up the pre All-Star portion of his first full season in baseball. Termarr Johnson is hitting .230/.397/.403 over 59 games. There have been some good signs and some minor red flags to his season so far.

Johnson just turned 19 years old last month, so that’s important to remember when looking at his performance. He also missed almost all of Spring Training, plus the start of the season, due to a hamstring injury. He was basically using his first couple of weeks with Bradenton as Spring Training. We will start with those minor red flags, which would be bigger if you didn’t factor in what I just wrote. He has 77 strikeouts already, giving him a 30.4% strikeout rate. The defense has been a bit shaky as well, though it’s improved with time, especially with him concentrating on second base now.

The good here is 52 walks in 253 plate appearances. He’s also shown some power, connecting on eight homers. That’s good enough for third place in walks and ninth place in homers in the league. Despite that .230 average, that patience/power combo gives him an .800 OPS. The league has a .710 OPS, coming from a group of players who are mostly 2+ years older than him.

I think it’s going to be interesting to see how he does during the second half, especially with the strikeouts. Johnson swings out of his shoes a lot. That’s how he gets to his power, but he’s also sacrificing his average in the process. He’s playing in a league where the ball doesn’t travel well in the summer months, which can also really take a lot out of a player. I’d call it a success if he can get the average up, while cutting into those strikeouts, even if the OPS stays the same. Once he gets to Greensboro, he’s going to get more out of those all-out swings.

ANTHONY MURPHY: Jose Hernandez, LHP, Indianapolis (AAA)

Hernandez doesn’t qualify as a prospect anymore, but is back in the minors on rehab assignment currently. Even though he only had one season at Double-A or higher before this season, you can see the accelerated development from Spring Training to now.

Before his injury the Pirates were starting to rely on Hernandez in more high leverage situations, which is impressive for a Rule-5 pick. The Pirates really did a great job identifying and putting Hernandez on the right track to becoming a success relief pitcher.

He had the look of a major league reliever, quickly dispatching the first three hitters of the game, one by strikeout. He used mainly fastballs on the night, but of the three sliders, he got a whiff and called strike call.

JOHN DREKER: Yoerys Hernandez, LHP, DSL Pirates (Rk)

Starter Greiber Mendez won a Player of the Week award earlier this year and he has a 1.50 ERA for the season, so he’s been getting notice. He finished off today’s game with 3.1 shutout innings, but the Cubs put seven men on base in a brief time against him. He was followed by Yoerys Hernandez, who shutdown the Cubs for 3.2 innings, retiring all 11 batters he faced. His day started by working out of a jam in a scoreless game, stranding two inherited runners.

Hernandez is a 19-year-old lefty out of the Dominican. He’s 6’2″, listed at 185 pounds when he signed in April of 2022. He’s got a medium frame, so there isn’t a lot of filling out left to do. While some pitchers develop later, that is not the reason that he signed at 18 years old. He was trying to get signed as an outfielder. He’s a lefty bat, with terrific raw power. He was getting attention from scouts, so he continued on with the hitting, but he never got signed. He eventually went to the mound, where he showed a lot of promise by quickly improving his fastball and his control, which led him to the Pirates.

Hernandez debuted last year in a multi-inning relief role, where he had a 3.82 ERA over 33 innings, with 27 strikeouts, a 1.12 WHIP and a .234 BAA. He showed great control for someone who was new to the mound, issuing just eight walks. He’s basically doing the same thing this year, with a 3.86 ERA over 16.1 innings, with five walks, 17 strikeouts, a .237 BAA and a 1.16 WHIP. Except for the slightly higher strikeout rate, it’s almost a perfect match for the 2022 numbers. He’s someone who we will likely see in the U.S. next year, where we can get a better look at him during FCL games.

Sunday’s Top Performers

  • Rodolfo Nolasco (A): 1-4, R, HR (11), 2 RBI
  • Alessandro Ercolani (A): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K
  • Alika Williams (AAA): 1-4, R, HR (4), RBI, BB
  • Liover Peguero (AAA): 2-5, RBI
  • Miguel Fulgencio (A): 1.2 IP, 2 K
  • Miguel Andujar (AAA): 2-3, 2 R, HR (10), RBI, BB
  • Check out the rest of Sunday’s action here.

Daily Video Rundown

The Pirates have no shortage of options of middle infield options in the upper levels, and Alika Williams is starting to force his way into that mix. His calling card is his defense, but he continues to swing the bat very well.

Williams isn’t the only hitter in Indianapolis that is hot, as Chris Owings has home runs in back-to-back days over the weekend. The veteran utility-man now has six Triple-A home runs this season.

With the first overall pick in the 2023 draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Paul Skenes, who put together one of the best pitching seasons in college baseball history.

Monday’s Minor League Action

By John Dreker


Game Time: 11 am ET
DSL Pirates Black Starter: Dariel Francia (3.43 ERA)
–Line: 4 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 SO
Player of the Game: Miguel Rodriguez 2-for-2, 2 BB

Score: Red Sox 12, Pirates 2

Starter Dariel Francia worked around some base runners to throw four shutout innings, while striking out six batters. He left with a 2-0 lead. Three relievers later, the Pirates were down 12-2. Infielder Christopher Orelin ended up recording the final out in the bottom of the eighth.

The Pirates only scored two runs, but Miguel Rodriguez had a good day. He had two singles and two walks in four trips to the plate.

The Pirates had plenty of base runners, but they went 0-for-3 in steals and 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They also committed five errors on defense.

Jonathan Rivero and Cristian Jauregui each had an RBI.


Game Time: 10 am ET, DH
DSL Pirates Gold Starter: Greiber Mendez (1.50 ERA)
–Line: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 SO
Player of the Game: Yoerys Hernandez 3.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Game One: Pirates 2, Cubs 0

Starter Greiber Mendez lowered his ERA to 1.50 with 3.1 shutout innings, but he didn’t have the best start. He allowed seven base runners in his short time, then got help from reliever Yoerys Hernandez, who stranded two inherited runners in the fourth. He ended up retiring all 11 batters he faced to pick up the win in the seven-inning contest, which was the first game of a doubleheader.

All of the scoring in this game came on a two-run triple in the fifth inning by Carlos Tirado. He had two of the four hits for the Pirates, adding a single, as well as the team’s only walk of the game. Juan Machado had the other two hits, including a double. He also scored one of the runs.

DSL Pirates Gold Starter: Jose Regalado (3.46 ERA)
–Line: 2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO
Player of the Game

Game Two: Pirates 12, Cubs 9

After a quiet first game for both teams on offense, the bats broke out in the second game. The seven-inning contests ended in a 12-9 slugfest.

Pirates started Jose Regalado allowed three runs in his two innings. Luis Joseph followed with four runs in 1.1 innings. Angel Camacho got the win with one unearned runs over 2.2 innings, while striking out five batters.

Down 3-0, Rodolfo De La Cruz hit a three-run homer in the second to tie the game, his first home run of the season.

Pirates were down 7-3 going to the bottom of the fourth. Daje Morales and Juan Machado both drew bases loaded walks. Roinny Aguiar and Eduardo Oviedo then added sacrifice flies. Two runs scored on the first one due to an error.

Machado had a two-run single in the fifth. Lennyn Nunez hit the team’s third sacrifice fly to make it an 11-8 lead.

De La Cruz capped the scoring with his fourth RBI on a sixth inning single.

The Pirates had just five hits, but they walked 12 times.

Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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