I was in attendance for the Hooks' 10-2 loss to the Padres-affiliated San Antonio Missions last Saturday, and though Max Stassi had been promoted, Ruben Alaniz was pitching and Austin Hedges wasn't in the lineup for San Antonio, I still got a chance to see the prospect I most needed a closer look at, newly acquired Mexican outfielder Leonardo Heras.
Heras was a star in Mexico, hitting .310/.398/.519 with 11 home runs, going 14 of 20 on stolen base attempts and striking out in just 15.9% of his plate appearances, primarily against players at least five years his senior. The Mexican League isn't a hotbed for high-end talent, and his signing came out of nowhere. While the numbers in Mexico were strong, the prospecting community didn't know what to expect from Heras as he made the jump to AA ball.
My overall impression of Heras was fairly positive. He has a really thick build, sort of reminiscent of a guy like Jean Segura or Jose Altuve, with the thighs of a football running back, and broad shoulders that put some extra juice into his shorter frame. He's listed at 5-9, and that looked pretty accurate from where I sat. He's well-built and he moves smoothly, but I didn't come away especially impressed with his tools. His arm is definitely below average, and I can't envision him playing anywhere but left field. His speed is average, but he takes good angles and looks comfortable fielding the ball. He's not going to make any noise with his defense, but he's not going to hurt you with it either.
At the plate, Heras was a lot more impressive. He generates some solid pop by exploding through be ball with his hips and turning his shoulders. He takes a quick path to the ball and can go to all fields. He put the ball in play in all of his at bats against San Antonio, and mixed in a line-drive single to go with an infield hit. He's a patient hitter who doesn't swing at junk, and looked to be picking up the offspeed stuff well. He did make a costly base-running error after his first hit, getting caught in a rundown between second and third after Preston Tucker legged out an infield single.
When I look at Heras I don't see the tools that you want out of a major league regular, particularly one that plays the outfield. I do see a bat that can play against right handed pitching, reach base at a solid clip and provide around 10 homers in a full season. He's not exciting, but he's similar to a player like Robbie Grossman, who may not be a game-breaker, but can contribute to a major league squad in a platoon role. He's a very solid pickup for the system, and I expect him to spend plenty of time in blue and orange in the future.