Jason McLeod likes to check off boxes when evaluating draft prospects.
Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner checks off a lot of them. As a result, the Cubs took Hoerner with the 24th pick in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Here’s what the Cubs think he’ll bring to the table:
Strike Zone Management – Check.
Solid Approach – Check.
Excellent Makeup and Leadership Skills – Check.
Wooden Bat Experience – Check.
Ability to play multiple positions – Check again.
Great Defender – Big Check.
Increased Power Every Year – Check.
The 5’11” and 195 pounder has shown growth over his college and summer baseball career. Everything he does, he does well. He’s a very good all-around player who does not seem to have too many holes.
Here is a nice video of Hoerner before last year’s Cape Cod League All-Star Game. Notice how well he barrels up the ball.
When you start looking at all those boxes Hoerner checked, you can see why the Cubs selected the shortstop. He epitomizes everything “The Cubs’ Way” expounds in how to play the game.
At first, I was surprised by the pick, as Hoerner had been ranked in the 40s and 50s by many publications. But then again, the Cubs could have saved some money for later by getting Hoerner as a possible underslot signing.
What I Like Most
I like that he can handle a bat and knows how to use it. His low strikeout rate of less than 10 percent this past year at Stanford is impressive.
Here is what Spencer Hansen of 20/80 Baseball Thought of Hoerner:
Hoerner does have some pop though it’s mostly to the gaps, with limited over the fence potential. Defensively, Hoerner has clean actions, and shows some range to the six-hole, but he could be better suited at second base due to a lack of arm strength. Hoerner has above average raw speed, which allows him to take the extra base while also helping him to steal 13 bases this season.
Regardless of whether Hoerner is able to remain at shortstop or will need to move to second base, his advanced approach and hand-eye coordination should allow the bat to play at the next level. With collegiate hitters representing a premium in the draft, Hoerner has potential to come off the board late on day one, or early on day two.
Hansen’s evaluation looks like Hoerner checked the boxes for Hansen, too.
Hoerner should begin his career with the Eugene Emeralds. He probably won’t be there long.
Lead photo courtesy of Stanford Athletics