Four Arizona Diamondbacks non-roster invitees to watch in Spring Training

The Arizona Diamondbacks have 26 non-roster invitees heading into Spring Training, but these four will be interesting to watch.
Jul 17, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA;  Ivan Melendez wears his jersey after he was selected by the
Jul 17, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Ivan Melendez wears his jersey after he was selected by the / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Worcester Red Sox catcher Ronaldo Hernandez.

Spo Woosox Practice 30
Worcester Red Sox catcher Ronaldo Hernandez. Spo Woosox Practice 30 / Christine Peterson/Telegram &

Ronaldo Hernandez

The backup catcher role to Gabriel Moreno is up for grabs. The 2023 Diamondbacks’ backup catcher, Jose Herrera will enter Spring Training with an opportunity to grab it, but former top prospect Ronaldo Hernandez is one of the multiple backstops in the running for the job. There’s a possibility he could run away with it if he has a good Spring Training.

Hernandez was formerly a top 100 prospect with the Tampa Bay Rays in the late 2010s. But he was traded to the Boston Red Sox in the 2020-2021 off-season. But his progression has since stalled out. He’s still on the young side of baseball at 26, and while he may no longer have the prospect pedigree he once had, he’s an interesting player nonetheless.

The D-Backs signed Hernandez to a minor league contract after he batted .242/.336/.445 with a 93 wRC+ for the Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. Hernandez’s calling card is his power, and he blasted 17 home runs in 393 plate appearances with a .203 isolated slugging percentage. He also walked 10.4% of the time, a career-high rate, with a solid 17.6% strikeout rate. But take his BB% with some context, as the league average was 11.8%, and Hernandez has never posted a BB% within 1% of his 2023 mark.

Hernandez has had trouble with his defense throughout his minor league career. He split his time between catcher and DH last year and has allowed at least a dozen passed balls in six separate seasons. But for what it’s worth, he only allowed five in 430 innings caught, the best of his career by a margin of four.

Hernandez hit lefties very well with a .291/.380/.494 slash when facing southpaws in 2023. He could serve as an occasional platoon for Pederson, if they don’t sign another free agent to share the role with him, as well as give Moreno a day off here and there as well. Hernandez will be one of the multiple catchers the D-Backs will consider for the backup catcher role, and his performance in Spring could heavily influence that.