Written by Corbett Smith
Rockwall-Heath pitcher Jovan Hernandez triumphs after draft rejection, wins MVP
ROUND ROCK — Even though he graduated from Rockwall-Heath on Tuesday, the start of the week wasn’t the best time in Jovan Hernandez’s life.
The MLB first-year draft came and went, finishing up Wednesday. While his lifelong teammate Jake Thompson went in the second round, Hernandez — a star alongside Thompson during an unprecedented four-year run at Heath — didn’t hear his name called in 40 rounds.
Teammate Timbo Duncan said he could see Hernandez “contemplating one of the low points in his life.”
No doubt — it hurt, Hernandez said.
“It’s going to bother me until next draft,” he said. “But I’m determined. I’m not going to give up. It’s a motivation for me.”
That determination was evident in Friday’s Class 4A final against Cleburne.
In the 10-1 win, Hernandez won the game’s MVP award, throwing a four-hitter and going 2 for 4 with 3 RBI, including a two-run home run in the third that broke a 1-1 tie.
“Just another example of Jovan doing what Jovan does,” Heath coach Greg Harvey said. “He’s a gamer. In the biggest games, he always shines.”
Until the state final, Hernandez — a Navarro signee — was best known for tying the state-record 42-game hitting streak in the first game of his junior season.
But he put another significant stamp on his high school career in his final game.
Harvey called his pitching performance “amazing, from first pitch to last.” Known for his no-nonsense demeanor and quick work on the mound, Hernandez didn’t allow a base runner in the final three innings, throwing just 79 pitches for his eighth complete game of the year.
“I never backed down,” Hernandez said. “I rise up to the challenge. Coach says all the cream rises to the top.”
After receiving the MVP award, he gave every teammate a hug, with tears in his eyes. He was sad that he’d never play again with his teammates, some of whom dated back to elementary school. But with the sadness came a smile.