Jan Is Back: All-Star Hernandez Returns For 3rd Season With Monarchs

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – For months, Kansas City Monarchs fans have been asking the question: Is Jan Hernandez coming back? Now they have their answer.

The power-hitting outfielder is returning for a third season with the Monarchs in 2023, the American Association club announced Tuesday.

The signing returns one of the league’s most feared hitters to a club already among the favorites for the AAPB championship. The Monarchs open their season Friday night on the road in Sioux City at 7:05 p.m. Their home opener is May 19 at 7 p.m.

“I feel like it’s going to be a great year for us, and the goal is to win the championship,” Hernandez said. “We are family. We’re just excited to be here again.”

“Every time Jan has been with us he’s been extremely good,” Monarchs manager Joe Calfapietra said. “He knows the winning culture here, and he’s a run producer. Every lineup could use a guy like him.”

Hernandez, 28, is one of the American Association’s elite players. He had an MVP-caliber campaign in 2022, hitting 24 homers and driving in 71 despite an injury that limited him to 73 games.

The native of Puerto Rico led the league with a .657 slugging percentage last year and ranked second with a .438 on-base percentage. He also stole 10 bases and made plenty of sparkling plays in the field.

“The whole year was special,” Hernandez said, “I feel like we enjoyed the moment for the whole season, from the first game until the last.”

Perhaps the most memorable night of Hernandez’s 2022 season came in the AAPB All-Star Game in Chicago. With the league’s brightest stars gathering for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, Hernandez blasted the first pitch he saw for a no-doubt home run.

Hernandez’s debut season with the Monarchs in 2021 was just as impressive. The charismatic outfielder hit .318 with a 1.053 OPS, collecting 19 homers and 66 RBIs over 55 games. He was one of the frontrunners for the league’s player of the year award when he signed with the Cincinnati Reds organization midseason.

Born in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, Hernandez was drafted in the third round by the Phillies in 2013 out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy. He was the first player ever drafted out of the school, which was founded two years earlier. He made it as high as Triple-A in his affiliated career, most recently with the Reds organization in 2021.

Hernandez has returned to Puerto Rico to play winter ball for the past nine seasons. That includes two appearances in the Caribbean Series, both with Santurce, in 2019 and 2020.

Division champions in each of their last three seasons, the Monarchs boast a talented and deep roster for 2023 that includes six players that have spent time with a major-league club. Fans can find the Monarchs’ full 2023 roster at MonarchsBaseball.com/Roster.

About the Kansas City Monarchs

The Kansas City Monarchs are a professional baseball team in the American Association, an MLB Partner League. This year, they are celebrating their 20th year of baseball in Kansas City, Kansas. In 2020, the team partnered with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and changed their name from the T-Bones to the Monarchs in honor of the legendary Negro League franchise that played from 1920 to 1965. The Monarchs won ten Negro American League championships and two Negro League World Series championships in their history. The team featured numerous notable players over the years, including Hall of Famers Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, and Buck O’Neil.

About the American Association

The American Association of Professional Baseball played its first season in 2006. It is a professional partner league that is affiliated with Major League Baseball but not specifically with any one team. The league consists of 12 teams located primarily in the Midwest and the South of the United States. Its season runs from May to September and features players who are looking to showcase their talents for a chance to be signed by a major league team.