"It means a lot to me," Hernandez said about his first big league home run. "Liriano's one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues, and to get my first hit and my first home run against him is so exciting for me."
The youngster found out about his callup in the early hours of the morning on Friday from Triple-A Fresno manager Tony DeFrancesco, and he proceeded to take an early flight to Salt Lake City, then up to Toronto.
Hernandez didn't arrive at the ballpark until an hour before first pitch -- a tad too late to join his team for batting practice or hit in the cage. As it turned out, he saved all the magic in his bat for his debut.
"He's very calm at the plate, very under control," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, who met with Hernandez in his office prior to the game. "He had a big smile on his face, obviously, making his debut, and then he finds a way to come up with the big hit and contribute in a couple different ways."
Ranked by MLBPipleline.com as the Astros' No. 12 prospect, Hernandez put himself on track for a callup after a dominant 2016 season across two levels of the Minor Leagues. He has demonstrated an ability to play all three outfield spots, and he hit .307 with 10 home runs, 53 RBIs and 34 stolen bases in the Minors this season. The right-handed hitter showed off all of those tools in his debut.
In addition to his home run, the Dominican Republic native drew a five-pitch walk in his first at-bat and legged out an infield single on a grounder to second in the eighth. While Hernandez said he couldn't sleep in anticipation of his first big league game and was constantly responding to messages from his family, he was more than happy with the outcome after helping his team secure a victory.
"It's an incredible day," Hernandez said. "It's a day I'm never going to forget. I'm here, we got the win, and I played a good game."
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.