Oakland Athletics prospect Darell Hernaiz will start the year in the majors

The Oakland Athletics have added Darell Hernaiz to the Opening Day roster
Oakland Athletics Spring Training
Oakland Athletics Spring Training / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

Oakland Athletics manager Mark Kotsay has announced that infielder Darell Hernaiz will be on the Opening Day roster. Hernaiz has had a strong spring and with the recent spate of injuries, the Athletics have a need for Hernaiz's versatility.

Hernaiz has primarily split time between shortstop and third base and will enter the year competing for playing time with Nick Allen and recent acquisition JD Davis. Hernaiz should also be able to provide innings at second base in a pinch, if necessary.

Hernaiz is an intriguing prospect. He's shown strong plate discipline since coming to Oakland from Baltimore last winter. With a walk rate close to 10% and a strikeout rate under 16%, he should be able to get on base enough to be an effective major leaguer.

MLB Pipeline has him as the Athletics' 5th ranked prospect heading into 2024. From their writeup, "Hernaiz displays strong bat speed and tremendous bat-to-ball skills with an ability to drive the ball across the field. His homer total was down a bit from the previous year, though the A’s still believe there is more power to be tapped into".

It's possible that Hernaiz will find a way to access that power in games. It would be a huge difference maker for him, as he hasn't been much of a power threat at any stop in the minors. He's yet to hit more than 6 home runs at any minor league stop, though he did steal 20+ bases at both Low-A and High-A a couple years back.

An interesting note is that Hernaiz will be the youngest player to debut in an Athletics uniform since Brett Anderson back in 2010. Hernaiz will turn 23 later this summer.

While he likely won't be an everyday option for Kotsay to start the year, he could work his way into a starting role if he plays well enough. Nick Allen is still an extremely strong defender at short, and JD Davis should be a more consistent hitter.

However, if Hernaiz is hitting well, one has to assume that Kotsay will find a way to get his bat into the lineup. There isn't much standing in the way of Hernaiz if he proves to be a capable hitter. Whether that means shifting Davis to DH more often and playing Brent Rooker in the outfield, or getting Hernaiz playing time at Allen's expense. We'll have to wait to see how it plays out but Hernaiz could be an exciting building block for the Athletics future.