Minor League Monday: Nico Hoerner
Nico Hoerner has been a solid prospect for the Cubs, making some noise at the big league level. He's had some solid hits and some struggles. Today, I'd like to look back on his minor league numbers, and examine my hopes for the future.
Hoerner played three seasons of college baseball. He was drafted by the Cubs in the first round of the 2018 draft, going 24th overall. He played maybe a third of a season in 2018 professionally, with tidbits at Eugene, South Bend, and the fall league. In 2019, he played 70 games at AA Tennessee, putting up a respectable .284 .344 .399. Instead of going to AAA, he was called up to the Cubs on September 9th. The Cubs were in a pinch because of injuries, and needed an infielder. Hoerner played well enough in his cup of coffee
Normally, one would have expected him to go to AAA and work out a few things. But with the 2020 pandemic and subsequent cancellation of the minor league season, Hoerner's been with the Cubs all season long. It hasn't gone great. Here are the numbers:
-Note how Hoerner has 89 games in the minors, and presently 54 in the majors. That's a pretty short career. I thought Kris Bryant shot through the system, and he had over 180 games played in the minors.
-Comparing minors to majors, Nico's walk rate has dropped by nearly 66%, while his K rate has doubled. Not great signs for development. WIth the lack of development time, I suspect that Nico's having a hard time recognizing pitches. That's something that should get better with age and experience.
-Despite some serious struggles, Nico has a MLB OBP of .313. Not great, but that's something that figures to drastically improve. He maintained an OBP over .350 at every level before this, so you figure that at some point he should get back there.
I hope that in 2021, he can start the year and AAA and work out a few things, then maybe come back to the Cubs mid season. He clearly needs some seasoning. But considering his good enough track record, I suspect he'll be a solid starter once he gets some reps in. These years at the MLB level might be rough now, but will give him things to work on in the minors. If he makes the adjustments, watch out.