Enrique J. Hernandez
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 170-200 lb.
- High School American Military Academy
- Debut July 1, 2014
Utility player Enrique Hernandez (often known as Kiké) made his major league debut with the Houston Astros at the beginning of July, 2014, then was traded to the Miami Marlins on the 31st of that month. Later that winter he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and began a long stretch with them as a multi-position backup, playing much center field but eventually finding himself more at second base as a semi-regular.
A 6th round draft choice in the 2009 amateur draft out of Puerto Rico, he was mainly an infielder in the minor leagues after making his professional debut as a 17-year-old with the GCL Astros in 2009. He hit a solid .295 in 53 games that first year, then followed that up by hitting .280 in 60 games for the Tri-City ValleyCats of the New York-Penn League in 2010. He lost half of the 2011 season to an injury, playing only 62 games for the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League and hitting .242; he got his first extended look in the outfield that year, playing 32 games in left field.
Enrique started the 2012 season with 100 games for the Lancaster JetHawks of the California League, where he hit .275, then was promoted to the AA Corpus Christi Hooks, playing regularly in the Texas League as a 20-year-old - one of the youngest players in the circuit. His combined batting line was .270/.314/.399 in 123 games, with second base his main position. He repeated at Corpus Christi in 2013, logging 116 games but hitting just .236 with an OBP of .297. He did show growing power, though, with 18 doubles and 13 homers. He again started the year in the Texas League in 2014, but earned a promotion after 10 games of hitting .325. He continued to hit very well with the AAA Oklahoma City 89ers, with a batting line of .337/.380/.508 in 67 games, earning him the call to the Show.
Henriquez was hitting .284 after 24 games at the time he was traded to the Marlins. He had played mainly in the outfield, with 11 starts in center and 8 in left. His first home run had come in only his second big league game, on July 2nd, a solo shot off Chris Young of the Seattle Mariners in a 5-2 loss. In the deal at the trading deadline, he accompanied P Jarred Cosart and minor leaguer Austin Wates to Miami, while three prospects - Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran and Francis Martes - headed to Houston. He played 18 games for Miami, hitting .175. After the season, on December 10th, he was involved in another multi-player trade, heading to the Los Angeles Dodgers with Ps Andrew Heaney and Chris Hatcher and utility player Austin Barnes in return for 2B Dee Gordon, P Dan Haren and IF Miguel Rojas.
Hernandez managed to win a game as a pinch-runner on June 18, 2015 by pulling a very old trick. He was on third base with two outs in the 9th inning in a scoreless game against the Texas Rangers. He tried to distract rookie reliever Keone Kela by feinting to take off for home plate, and it worked perfectly, as Kela flinched and committed a balk that was immediately called by two umpires, allowing Hernandez to score the winning run. He played for the Puerto Rican national team that finished second in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
On July 24, 2018, he became the first position player ever to give up a walk-off home run when he was tagged by Trevor Plouffe of the Philadelphia Phillies in the first pitching appearance of his professional career. He had started the game at second base and had also played right field in the game, going 0 for 7, when manager Dave Roberts asked him to pitch with the score tied at 4 in the bottom of the 16th, the Dodgers having run out of available pitchers. He retired the first batter he faced on a fly ball, then walked the next two men he faced before Plouffe took him deep to end the game.
In 2020, Hernandez agreed with the Dodgers on a one-year, $5.9 million, contract, avoiding arbitration. On July 23rd, Hernandez drove in five runs in an Opening Day 8–1 win against the San Francisco Giants opening day having been delayed by over three months by the Coronavirus pandemic. He played in 48 games during the season, hitting .230/.270/.410 with 5 home runs and 20 RBIs. He was hitless in 5 at-bats in the Division Series against the San Diego Padres. In Game 7 of the 2020 National League Championship Series against the Atlanta Braves, Hernandez hit a game-tying solo home run in the 6th inning. With the home run, Hernandez also became the first player to hit a pinch-hit, game-tying or go-ahead home run in a winner-take-all postseason game. Overall, he had 14 at-bats in the series, with four hits, two of them home runs. In the 2020 World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Hernandez had two hits in 10 at-bats as the Dodgers won the championship.
On February 2, 2021, Hernández signed a two-year, $14 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. He began the season as Boston's primary center fielder, while also seeing time at second base. On May 7th, Hernández was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain. On May 17th, he played for the Worcester Red Sox on a rehabilitation assignment. He hit two home runs in the game, including the first grand slam in team history. Hernández returned to Boston's lineup the following day. He was named the American League Player of the Week after hitting .400 with 9 RBIs during the week of July 19–25.