After splitting the 2012 season between the Travelers and Inland Empire (A club), infielder Brian Hernandez spent all of the 2013 season with Inland Empire before joining the Travs this season on April 25. Hernandez came to Arkansas as a third baseman but moved to first base after an injury to Michael Snyder. Since his arrival to Arkansas, Hernandez’s batting average ballooned from .190 to .312. Hernandez was chosen as an all-star in the 2014 Texas League All-Star game June 24 at Dickey-Stephens Park.
You’ve been hitting better since joining the Travs. Do you know why?
I’ve gotten back to just playing the game. Before, I wanted to move up, so I was trying to do too much. I was here in 2012, and last year was frustrating, and I had to get over what I couldn’t control. Since I’ve gotten here, I’ve really been seeing the ball, and that has been really refreshing.
So did you like making the move from third base to first base?
I actually had to it in the playoffs last year after Snyder got hurt. Then, it happened again. I like third base, but I’ll do whatever to get in the lineup. I just like being in the lineup.
This is your first all-star nod. What are your thoughts about that?
It is really, really cool. I’ve been under the radar for a while so this is definitely a cool accomplishment.
While at the University of California-Irvine, you were first drafted in 2009 by the Cleveland Indians and then in 2011 by the Angeles. What made you decide not to go the first time?
I needed that extra college experience, and growing up in San Francisco I always wanted to attend college there.
Excited to be drafted by the Angels?
Yes, I grew up a huge fan, and Brian Downing was my dad’s favorite player. I’m actually named after him.
Did you try any other sports?
I played football as a freshman, but our team wasn’t very good. I was playing soccer and baseball but because those seasons intersect I had to make a choice.
Besides the Big Leagues, what are your goals?
I try not to set goals and learned one of the biggest things is you can’t benchmark. You just have to take one bat a time and one game at a time. I have a childhood friend who was just released, and that puts things into perspective. Eventually, I want to coach and teach.
What do you do in the off-season?
I coach a travel team and have coached 12- and 14-year olds. I also give lessons and run camps. I’ve been pretty fortunate to be able to do that.
What lessons have you learned from coaching?
Different things—for one thing I like seeing the players get better every year. I also try to make it fun as possible for them and try to get them to want to get better. When I’m with them, I tell the parents they can’t talk to their kids for that 30 minutes I’m with them. Sometimes when I see them do something, I tell them to do it this way and realize I can carry it over to my game.
— Bridget Bauer