SURPRISE, Ariz. – Jonathan Hernandez, 21, is the youngest pitcher in the Rangers spring training camp. If not quite old enough to be his father, Bartolo Colon, 44, is old enough to have played with Hernandez’s father.
True story: He did.
Hernandez is part of a group of the Rangers’ youngest pitching prospects in camp and this group has been assigned to work with Colon, a master of the art of strike-throwing. I wandered over to find out what, if anything, Hernandez is asking Colon. Turns out a lot. There is a lot of catching up to do.
Hernandez’s father, Fernando, began his career as a pitcher in the Cleveland organization. He just missed Colon there, getting traded in an all Hernandez deal for reliever Jeremy Hernandez on June 1, 1993. Colon was signed on June 26. Fernando Hernandez later appeared in two games for Detroit in 1997 and played in the minors and in foreign leagues until 2005.
Among those leagues: The Dominican winter league, where he was at one point teammates with Colon for Aguillas. Both Hernandez and Colon are from the northern part of the Dominican; Colon from Altamira, which is about 30 miles from Hernandez’s hometown of Santiago.
“He knew me when I was a kid,” Hernandez said Sunday. “I think that gives me confidence to talk to him. And he’s taken me under his wing. He’s talking to me about throwing strikes and working the corners and not ever being afraid to throw strikes. He is somebody I can look up to.
“I talked to my father about it and he kind of laughed,” Hernandez said. “He said ‘He’s amazing. I’m at home and he’s still playing’.”
Hernandez is already well-acquainted with the emphasis on throwing strikes. Last year, at Class A Hickory, he was part of a rotation on which the Rangers imposed early-season restrictions limiting the use of secondary pitches to emphasize fastball command.
“It helped me get more confidence in my fastball, to learn to trust it,” Hernandez said. “I’ve got a good fastball. “
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