A member of the 2016 Astros draft class that included top prospect Forrest Whitley, third base prospect Abraham Toro-Hernandez followed a circuitous route to professional ball. Born in Longueuil, Quebec, located just north of Montreal, he was a part of a burgeoning prospect scene in Canada that has produced players like Josh Naylor and Mike Soroka in recent years as a prep star. Not a highly coveted player out of high school, Toro-Hernandez joined Seminole State College in Oklahoma, a strong JuCo program that has been attended by players such as Adam LaRoche, Ryan Franklin and briefly Astros C/DH Evan Gattis, prior to his exit from baseball in 2006.
As a freshman with SSC, Toro paced the team in RBI while walking 38 times against just 18 strikeouts in 223 plate appearances, hitting 20 home runs, and registering a .439/.545/.849 slash line. His offensive performance, switch hitting bat and athleticism impressed the Astros enough for them to spend a fifth-round pick on him as a 19 year-old. After struggling a bit in Greeneville in 2016, hitting just .254/.301/.322, the young third baseman started to show the traits that excited the Astros when he moved to Tri-City this past season. With the ValleyCats, playing against players on average two and three years his senior, Toro-Hernandez hit 6 homers in just 125 plate appearances, while walking 19 times and striking out 21- exemplifying the outstanding recognition and plate discipline he displayed as a JuCo star.
Promoted to Quad Cities late in the year, Toro-Hernandez got off to a hot start with the River Bandits but cooled towards the end of the season, possibly a sign of fatigue which isn’t uncommon for players getting their first taste of full-season ball. While he hit .209 with QC, he managed 9 more homers to bring his season total to 15 in 280 plate appearances, and continued to post great strikeout-to-walk numbers, adding 21 more bases on balls against 30 Ks. In his recent Top 20 organizational prospects list, Minor League Ball’s John Sickels ranked the 20-year-old 17th in the system, writing to fans “don’t be deceived by the low batting average, Midwest League observers liked his power, strike zone judgment, and defense at third base; intriguing breakthrough prospect for 2018.”
Toro-Hernandez will turn 21 later this month, and figures to earn an assignment to Quad Cities to start the 2018 season. Based on the early returns and his amateur track record, he has the potential to hit for both average and power, and could do so at a semi-premium defensive position as well. He has gotten some brief looks at catcher in the past, but given his chops at the hot corner and the organization’s words about his defensive home after he was drafted, it doesn’t appear likely that he will see any more time behind the plate going forward. The youngster has also drawn praise for his work ethic, and speaks three languages fluently. With the Astros top prospect ranks occupying primarily pitchers and bats on the verge of graduating to the majors, Toro-Hernandez represents the offensive player closest to taking a big step forward in the system, before teenagers such as Freudis Nova, Miguelangel Sierra and Joe Perez mature. With greater offensive consistency, Toro-Hernandez could find himself drawing national praise in 2018.
While we look forward to seeing what his explosive bat can do in the coming year, here’s a video of one of his 9 Quad Cities long-balls in 2017.