Back for another season, and I’m kicking it off with a very familiar face as my first Shorebird position player of the month.
In fact, Darell Hernaiz is one of just a few Shorebirds of the Year to begin the next season with Delmarva. But unlike the others, who won simply as being the standardbearer on a well below-average team, Darell is stuck behind a whole host of more highly-regarded prospects on the left side of the infield, several of whom he shared time with here last season.
So while Darell’s still here, he’s spent his April crushing the competition to a point where Hernaiz is the unquestioned best offensive player on the team, slashing .322/5/16/1.009 OPS – all numbers which led the Shorebirds’ attack.
While Darell was highly placed as a 5th round draft pick in 2019 out of a Texas high school, the Puerto Rican native still languishes behind guys like Gunnar Henderson (drafted ahead of him in 2019), 2020’s Jordan Westburg and Coby Mayo, and Cesar Prieto, a Cuban shortstop signed this offseason and assigned to Aberdeen. Even though Prieto was hurt recently, the Orioles opted to move Greg Cullen’s rehab to Aberdeen rather than finally promote Hernaiz. Perhaps it’s the seven errors Hernaiz committed that keeps him here, but one has to wonder if Darell will be one of those guys who leaves as a six-year free agent and makes it with someone else. Meanwhile, he’ll hopefully just keep raking and contend for a back-to-back honor no one has done before.
We also have a somewhat familiar face as the Shorebird Pitcher of the Month, as Daniel Lloyd came up with the wave of 2021 draft picks at the tail end of last season. But while Daniel struggled a bit as a Shorebird in 2021 (1-0 but with a 6.17 ERA and 1.971 WHIP in nine appearances covering 11 2/3 innings) he’s done what many players have in their return to Delmarva: put up markedly improved numbers. In eight innings in April Dan allowed but one earned run and only five hits (and walks) while striking out 11. He only allowed a run in one of his five appearances in April and kept the streak going to begin May, running his ERA down to 0.90.
A South Carolinian born and bred, I’m sure Dan is enjoying the Shorebirds’ current week in Columbia, where he pitched for the University of South Carolina after starring at Summerville High School in the Charleston area. He was selected by the Orioles in the 14th round last season, and opened his career with one inning in the Complex League before reporting to Delmarva last August. Dan is one of a handful of pitchers who the Shorebirds retained this spring after many of them got our home cooking for the first time last season now that Delmarva no longer has a buffer team in Aberdeen for rookies out of the former Gulf Coast League.
Since Dan is only 21, he’s certainly at an appropriate level for his advancement and will probably see a lot of late-inning situations for the Shorebirds as the season goes on. At this time, Lloyd has not been in a save situation but the guys who get holds eventually get that chance, so we will see.
Unlike the position player competition, which Hernaiz dominated, the pitching came down to several guys as the month ended, with bad outings doing in a couple competitors. A very reasonable argument, though, could have been made for Juan De Los Santos to have grabbed the brass ring, and it was a close contest where Lloyd barely prevailed.