Reading’s Jan Hernandez and Clearwater’s Jose Pujols are in a battle for the Phillies minor league right fielder of the future. Nothing much is ahead or behind them in right field in the Phillies system. At AAA Lehigh Valley is Dylan Cozens, who has hit .111 in his last ten games . At low A is Jhailyn Ortiz who has not played since April 23 and is still on the disabled list with a sore non-throwing arm shoulder after hitting .158 to start the season.
At AA Reading, the 23-year-old Hernandez has been a pleasant surprise hitting .321. In the last two weeks his his power has started to come. Watch his two home runs HERE and HERE. Though a right handed bat, he has hit right handed pitching at a .351 and a .870 OPS pace. He has improved dramatically from last season at high A Clearwater where he hit only .212 but hit 16 home runs. The improvement in batting average and OPS this year has resulted in reducing his strikeout rate.
In second half last season, Hernandez was moved to right field from third base. Initially, the move helped but his batting average trailed off dramatically after the Phillies chose to platoon him in right with Pujols during the last six weeks of the season.
Like Hernandez, Pujols has responded well to playing every day this season. The Phillies have had him repeat Clearwater. After a slow start hitting .254 in April, he has hit .339 and raised his OPS to .891 for May. He still continues to strikeout way too much having gone down on strikes 50 times in only 127 at bats this season. Watch one of his five home runs HERE.
Last season, Hernandez and Pujols shared the right field job in Clearwater the last six weeks of the season to neither’s benefit. Giving them the right field position this season full-time at Reading and Clearwater respectively has helped them dramatically. Each of them are hitting well. The only question remains will either of them get a chance to move up a level later this season and be added to the 40-man roster for next season.