After a successful full season with the Dunedin Blue Jays and Lansing Lugnuts in 2012, right handed pitcher Jesse Hernandez joined many other professional baseball players, and chose to play winter ball. This off-season, Hernandez joined Leones de Ponce of the Puerto Rican Baseball League.
Late last season, when JaysProspects had the opportunity to talk to the 24-year old native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, about his off-season routine, Hernandez indicated that his off-season rituals were similar to what he does to prepare for games during the season, but they are much more rigorous, “During the season we try to maintain our bodies, but during the off-season we’re more focused on getting bigger, stronger, and faster,” he said.
“I take my current routine and basically try to double it. My long toss and strength and conditioning routines are definitely bumped up.”
Many remember Hernandez’s 2012 season because he came incredibly close to a no hitter, not once, but twice. The first one came in June,as a member of the Lansing Lugnuts. Hernandez pitched a complete game versus the Fort Wayne TinCaps’ where he only allowed one hit. Unfortunately, despite pitching a gem, his offense wasn’t able to help him that game, and the Lugnuts lost, 1-0. .
His second near no-hitter came in July as a member of the Dunedin Blue Jays’ where the young pitcher came one strike away before the Port St. Lucie Mets’ Alonzo Harris lined a single to left. Fortunately for Hernandez he was still able to earn the win, as the Blue Jays won by a score of 4-1. “The first time I came close to the no hitter was bittersweet, because we lost the game,” he said. “The second one I will never forget as I was only one strike away and the player made an adjustment and got a hit. I tip my hat to him.”
Even though Hernandez found success in 2012 it hasn’t been an easy road. After a successful collegiate career that was split between Grand Rapids Community College and Central Michigan University, he wasn’t drafted even after a great senior year for the Chippewas posting an 8-3 record to go with a 4.58 ERA. He was also named Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2010. “I remember waiting to see how things would go. I was a little disappointed I wasn’t drafted, but when the Blue Jays called and said they wanted to sign me it was a huge sigh of relief.” Hernandez said.
In 2012, Jesse went 5-10 with a 3.70 ERA with 99 strikeouts, 31 walks in 143 1/3 innings of work in 28 games, which included 22 starts between the two clubs. Hernandez credits a lot of his success to his pitch repertoire, “I use four pitches, a sinker, a cutter, a slider, and a change-up. I throw my sinker 80% of the time and when it’s going good hitters hit it into the ground forcing that early contact takes me deep into games.”
Lansing Lugnuts’ Pitching Coach Vince Horsman also spoke highly about the right-hander and his success, “Jesse showed great improvement throughout the 2012 season. The maturation process these young pitchers have to go through isn’t easy, but he [did] a great job.”
Expect Jesse Hernandez to continue to do ‘a great job’ and have a great 2013 season.