Abraham Toro-Hernandez has tantalized onlookers at times with impressive hot streaks, showcasing his hard contact ability and advanced approach, but the young third baseman has struggled to sustain high level performance thus far in his pro career. Originally from Quebec, Toro-Hernandez was drafted out of Seminole State Junior College in the 5th round of the 2016 draft, where he had played catcher and third base. The Astros drafted him for his bat and scrapped his catching fairly early on, and he has developed nicely on the defensive side at third base since moving there full time.
Scouts have had positive things to say about Toro-Hernandez, praising his athleticism, bat speed and approach. He has flashed above average contact ability and discipline as a hitter, giving him enticing offensive upside if he can make more consistent hard contact. Despite hitting just .247/.345/.435 this season, Toro-Hernandez was able to limit his strikeouts to a tidy 108 in 536 PAs with a robust 62 walks. His numbers were particularly strong at Buies Creek, where he sported a .834 OPS and 14 homers, but his transition to Double-A was a bit rocky and his numbers took a dive across the board. At 21 years old, Toro-Hernandez was well below the average age in the Texas league and will still be age-appropriate when he returns next year.
After his moderately successful 2018, Toro-Hernandez has gone to work in the Arizona Fall League, where he has given audiences a taste of his impressive potential in the early-going. Through the first three games for Scottsdale, he has gone 6 for 11 with a pair of doubles, a home run, four walks and just one strikeout. The level of competition in the AFL is strong, and if Toro-Hernandez continues to rake it should serve as a shot in the arm for both his stock and his confidence as he prepares for his first full season in the upper minors.
If Toro-Hernandez can tune his approach and generate a higher rate of hard contact, there is breakout potential in 2019. After the obvious names in the system, he continues to boast some of the highest upside among position players. A switch hitter and above average athlete with a plus arm, he projects to generate some positive value on both sides of the ball with continued development. If he puts it all together, he could possess average hit, power and field tools and a plus arm that could play at third base or potentially an outfield corner if the bat reaches its potential.
In a farm system that has been weakened by graduations and trades to benefit the major league club, improvement from upside players such as Toro-Hernandez and Freudis Nova could go a long way in keeping the farm afloat after the graduations of Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker. Although the overall numbers thus far have been somewhat lackluster, I remain bullish on Toro-Hernandez due to his solid tools and strong peripheral markers. While Forrest Whitley and J.B. Bukauskas will rightfully draw most of the attention among Astros prospects in Arizona, Toro-Hernandez is intriguing in his own right and could turn heads league-wide if he remains near the top of statistical leaderboards.