I was checking on Xavier Cedeño’s rehab outing last night with the Smokies, so I knew in passing that shortstop prospect Nico Hoerner was having a solid game.
But it wasn’t until I woke up this morning and saw these tweets that I realized just how good it’s been lately for Hoerner:
Good morning. After 3 singles last night, Nico Hoerner leads the entire Cubs minor league system with a 180 wRC+.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) April 19, 2019
Stay hot, Nico.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 19, 2019
As Bryan indicated, Hoerner’s wRC+ is up to a whopping 180 on the year, thanks to a .333/.434/.489 slash line. Sure, that .395 BABIP is likely elevated solidly beyond a sustainable level, but he’s also rocking an incredible 13.2% BB and K rate combo.
That’s right, each of those numbers is the same impressive 13.2%. We’re at only the 53 plate appearance mark, and I won’t really start popping my eyes on his discipline numbers until he passes 100 PAs, but still – Hoerner isn’t *just* a guy who slaps singles and rides a wave of BABIP to a good slash line. We’ve seen so many of those types wither at AAA/MLB as the BABIP naturally shrinks, as pitchers are better and more willing to challenge in the zone, as defenses improve, etc.
I’d still like to see the power increase quite a bit to be confident that he’s going to be able to sustain an above-average bat overall in the big leagues, but I have to keep that perspective: we’re talking about a guy who was just drafted last year, got almost no minor league experience last year before an injury, then played in the AFL (with prospects much, much more established than he) where he raked, and was then sent to AA for his first full season, a placement track reserved for only the most pretty-darn-sure of sure things. And now that he’s there, he’s still raking.
Whatever he could be in the future, and whatever adjustments he’ll yet have to make, for now, Nico Hoerner is impressing the heck out of everyone.