With Spring Training in its meatiest part, and organizational prospects all now in Arizona, there are a number of fun bits to share and discuss on the prospect side of things.
- First up, I want to share our first look at Nico Hoerner’s triple from the other day (he also homered two days later, but there is no video), and I’m very impressed. Hoerner rocked it the other way and then showed great base running:
#Cubs prospect Nico Hoerner put his skills on display yesterday against the Rockies.
The 2018 first-round pick went 3/3 with a Triple. pic.twitter.com/MIrR8nkMtH
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) March 8, 2019
- That thing nearly left the part to right-center, which I mention specifically because, as a smaller guy, you’ve gotta have some pop to do that. The only part of Hoerner’s game that is still a question for me is the power, so, insofar as one swing of the bat can make you take note, that made me take note.
- A reminder: for high-contact guys like Hoerner, guys who can always hit .300+ at the lower levels of the minors, developing power isn’t as much about hitting home runs (though that’s always nice) as it is about keeping defenses and pitchers honest as you move up to higher and higher levels. We’ve seen it time and again with great low-level hitters: as they move up, the defenses get better, which hurts their BABIP. The pitchers get much better, which also decreases hard contact, increases strikeout rate, and decreases walk rate. Then, without the fear of power, pitchers – who can really start to command their stuff – take advantage of these types of hitters, which further reduces hits and extra-bases, while also further increasing strikeouts and reducing walks. It’s a deleterious cycle that quickly takes a .320/.360/.440 lower-level hitter and makes him a .280/.300/.350 guy at AAA. Almost everyone needs a little power to succeed.
- Speaking of power, here’s a look at Hoerner’s trip around the bases on his dinger, at which point he was apparently going to retrieve his own bat (nice guy!) and Kyle Schwarber let him him know what’s up:
— ODPhotography (@ODPhotography1) March 11, 2019
- More miscellaneous Nico goodness:
“If he catches the ball as well as everybody says he does and is able to work at-bats like we’ve seen, he’s not far off.”#Cubs' No. 2 prospect Nico Hoerner went 3-for-3 at the plate and impressed Joe Maddon with his adjustments: https://t.co/THarOiZhOA pic.twitter.com/SiphihHZ5i
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) March 9, 2019
What's even more absurd than Nico's 8 straight times on base is that he has gotten on base at least once in EVERY professional game he has played so far, regardless of level😱 #JavyNico2020
— Brendan King (@BKingSports) March 9, 2019
Stanford head coach David Esquer on Nico Hoerner: “He has the most insane work ethic of anybody I’ve ever been around”
— Cooper (@RushingBaseball) June 5, 2018
- The best part is a quote from Joe Maddon in that MLB Pipeline piece: “Our guys told me they wanted him to play because there’s a lot of confidence to him, and this kid is showing pretty well.” In other words, the front office told Joe to give Nico a start because they want to see him get some experience with the big league players. Pretty strong endorsement for a guy who was just drafted last year.
- Everyone wants to know where Hoerner will start this year, and Bryan certainly has a strong opinion:
I know ppl are protective of a prospect as good as Nico, and many I’ve come across are opposed to starting him in AA in fear of being rushed.
But given how he looked last summer, how he did in AFL, what he’s doing the past few days, I’m telling you: Tennessee is the right fit.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) March 10, 2019
- I’m one of those protective types, given that Hoerner has virtually NO experience above LOW-A, but it’s hard to argue with Bryan’s point. Plus, if Hoerner did start at shortstop at AA, it would leave open a full-time job at that position in High-A Myrtle Beach for fellow shortstop prospect Aramis Ademan (don’t forget about him).
- Lots here from Cubs Farm Director Jaron Madison, not just on Hoerner, but a number of Cubs prospects. Among the great notes in there, the Cubs appreciated that Aramis Ademan struggled at High-A (a very aggressive assignment), because it showed him much of what he needs to work on, including simply adding strength (which he’s done this offseason).
- Meanwhile, some love for the Cubs’ other top positional prospect:
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) March 9, 2019
- My Spanish ain’t great, but from what I can pick up, this young man just embodies being a catcher. He only just turned 20, and he’s probably going to be an early-blooming defensive catcher. If that bat continues to come along? I get excited, and the Cubs would be so lucky to have to figure out how to play both he and Willson Contreras in a few years.
- A heady, command-centric, non-top-pick righty from Dartmouth? Yes, Duncan Robinson should definitely try to take after Kyle Hendricks:
Dartmouth guy Duncan Robinson explains what Joe Maddon keeps hearing in exit interviews with young Cubs pitchers getting sent to minor-league camp: Kyle Hendricks is the perfect pitcher to try to emulate. https://t.co/zqD6toaNZd
— Patrick Mooney (@PJ_Mooney) March 11, 2019
- What a great read right here at FanGraphs on Cubs relief prospect Rowan Wick, whom they acquired from the Padres this offseason for Jason Vosler. Having converted from being a position player, Wick actually only has a few years of pro experience as a pitcher, but Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy is already a fan: “He has one of the shortest, quickest arms I’ve ever seen. He’s got good velocity, high spin, and that short, quick arm. His ball kind of jumps on you. His 95 [mph] gets on you more than a normal 95. He’s a strong, explosive kid. It’s fun to watch him throw.”
- Everyone compares Trent Giambrone to David Bote, and that’s for good reason – even Joe Maddon says the comp is perfect:
— Sun-Times Sports (@suntimes_sports) March 7, 2019
- Can the Cubs just carry THIS GUY as a Voltron-type player:
The combined Cactus League numbers for Nico Hoerner, Jared Young, Mark Zagunis and Trent Giambrone: 386 AVG / 449 OBP / 829 SLG.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) March 11, 2019