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Chad Hermansen

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Chad Bruce Hermansen

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The first-round selection of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1995 amateur draft, Chad Hermansen. Hermansen dazzled for the GCL Pirates (.306/~.366/.533) and manager Woody Huyke wrote that Chad could "walk on water". Though he played just 24 games before being promoted to class A, league managers voted him the top prospect in the league. The 17-year-old shortstop hit .273/~.344/.467 for the Erie SeaWolves and was also voted the top prospect in the New York-Penn League.

Hermansen began the 1996 season with the Augusta GreenJackets and struck out 65 times in 226 at-bats. He batted .252/~.360/.513 - while he was not making much contact, he was showing excellent power for an 18-year-old in a full-season class A loop. He was voted the #2 prospect in the circuit (behind Adrian Beltre) and named to the All-Star team at SS - even though he played half the year with the Lynchburg Hillcats. For Lynchburg, he batted .275/~.350/.462 and was named the #10 prospect in the Carolina League. Overall Chad had scored 81 runs, smacked 24 homers, drawn 67 walks, fanned 121 times and stolen 16 bases in 20 tries in his first full season of play.

Hermansen went to the Carolina Mudcats in 1997 and they moved him around the field. He batted .275/~.365/.479, hit 20 homers and 31 doubles, scored 87 times, drew 69 walks, struck out 136 times and stole 18 bases. He fielded just .839 at short (23 errors in 33 games), .913 at second (8 miscues in 22 games) and .935 in the outfield (8 errors in 59 contests) for a 39-error season. He was rated the 5th-best prospect in the league though he did lead the circuit in strikeouts. The Pirates' coaching had convinced Hermansen to adjust his throwing and his defense was taking the toll.

Chad kept on progressing up the ladder and the age of 20 showed he could handle AAA pitching without a problem. He batted .258/.334/.520 with 28 homers and 21 steals in 25 tries, though he continued to whiff frequently (150 times). He was 7th in the Pacific Coast League in homers, was named the Pirates' top minor league player that year by Baseball America and was now moving full-time to the outfield. The Pirates continued to tinker with Chad's swing and position.

Despite having played well at AAA, the Pirates had no need for a 28-homer guy so they acquired Brant Brown to play center field instead. Hermansen again tore up the PCL with a .270/.321/.530 season with 32 homers and 97 RBI. He cut his strikeouts down to 119 and he was third in the PCL in home runs. He became the all-time Nashville Sounds home run leader that year. The Pirates finally gave him a shot and he posted a 687 OPS in a cup of coffee, a tad worse than what Brant Brown had done.

Hermansen became the Pirates' starting center fielder in 2000 and did poorly, batting just .185/.226/.296 in a month before the team gave up on him. At the age of 22, Hermansen was "an unequivocal bust" according to sportswriter John Perrotto. He struggled in AAA as well, hitting just .224/.304/.384 for Nashville though he still stole 16 bases in 20 tries. Numerous reasons have been proposed for his performance including that a free-swinging, low-OBP guy would not do well in the majors, that the Pirates adjusted his swing too many times instead of letting him do what worked for him, that his confidence was wrecked by all the changes the coaches forced (a theory put forward in 2006 by Huyke), that he hadn't been given a good opportunity, that he had been highly rated due to potential and "tools" rather than performance and that a 22-year-old will struggle usually in his first month in the majors. Regardless of the season, Hermansen would never perform as well as he had in the 1990s.

In 2001 Chad hit .246/.315/.436 for Nashville with just 17 homers and 154 whiffs in 447 AB. He stole 22 bases in 27 tries. He struggled in a brief trial in the 'Burgh. The next year Hermansen was one of a slew of bad center fielders for the Bucs, fighting for time with Adrian Brown and Adam Hyzdu. Pittsburgh had had enough and gave up on the 24-year-old outfielder, trading him to the Chicago Cubs for Darren Lewis. Lewis, hearing he was headed for Pittsburgh, decided to retire instead. The Cubs worked out a second deal, giving the Pirates a couple non-prospects and cash in return for a non-prospect in a separate deal. The Pirates had basically given away their former #1 draft pick for nothing.

Chad returned to form in 2003, lighting up the PCL for the Las Vegas 51's with a .353/.405/.540 line in 68 games. A 25-year-old playing in AAA for the first time would have gotten a prolonged shot in the majors probably, but the Los Angeles Dodgers only used Hermansen for eleven games that season.

It was a fourth franchise in three years for Hermansen in 2004 when he joined the Toronto Blue Jays system and hit .240/.307/.438 for the Syracuse Sky Chiefs. Hermansen's wanderings continued in 2005 when he was signed by another set of Pirates, the Campeche Pirates of the Mexican League. Chad hit just .182 for Campeche, albeit with a .341 OBP and .424 slugging. He struck out 20 times in just 33 at-bats, earning him a quick release after 11 games. He then found his way to the Elmira Pioneers of the Can-Am League on May 4. By May 6 he was with his third team of the year, without ever having played a game for Elmira, as he was sold to the San Diego Padres. That made him the first player in the history of the new Can-Am to be sold to a Major League Baseball team. Hermansen did not play for any Padres club that year either, though, as the team turned him away after he failed a workout - the club was wary due to recent arm surgery. While still just 28, it appeared that Hermansen's career was rapidly fading away at that point in time.

Hermansen signed with the Sioux Falls Canaries of the new American Association in 2006. Hermansen set Canaries single-season records for doubles (35) and runs scored (77). He also led the American Association in doubles, extra-base hits (57), and slugging percentage (.579), placing second in the league in homers (19), third in runs scored, and fifth in RBI (72). He hit .317 in 94 of 96 games, with 119 hits. Following his single season with the Canaries, Hermansen was named to the 2006 All-Independent Leagues Second Team by Baseball America.

In January 2007, the Florida Marlins extended, and Hermansen accepted, an invitation to Spring Training.

Hermansen became a scout with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2012.

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