Theo Epstein Hearts Nico Hoerner, and I Dare You to Blame Him
Depending on whom you ask, either High-A catching prospect Miguel Amaya or AA shortstop prospect Nico Hoerner is the top prospect in the Cubs’ system, and although we’ve leaned Amaya this year, both are off to great starts, and you really can’t go wrong among the two.
I’m not saying that Cubs President Theo Epstein is going Hoerner on this particular question, but I did want to share that he offered some effusive praise for the 21-year-old 2018 first rounder:
#Cubs President Theo Epstein reveals a future #FantasyBaseball SLEEPER that you should keep an eye out for in Keeper and Dynasty Leagues!! #FlyTheW #GMandCoMish @CraigMish @JimBowdenGM pic.twitter.com/6MfYE4fBp5
— Fantasy Sports Radio (@SiriusXMFantasy) April 22, 2019
As you well know, Epstein doesn’t exactly get bubbly, so that’s about as effervescent as you’ll hear him about any one prospect. Obviously the Cubs selected Hoerner in the first round – considerably above his projected slot, by the way – for a reason, so Epstein was probably already inclined to be a fan. But when you immediately send that kid to the much more experienced, prospect heavy Arizona Fall League and he rakes? And then you challenge him in Spring Training and he rakes? And then you send him on a very aggressive first full year assignment and he keeps on raking? It’s hard not to be giddy.
That said, Epstein did touch on the concern with Hoerner, and it’s whether the power will keep coming along enough to keep his overall performance elevated when the pitching gets a lot tougher in AAA and MLB, and your ability to thrive on singles goes away (not that Hoerner *is* that guy, but that would be the fear). From Epstein’s perspective, Hoerner already hits the ball very hard and is only just now starting to learn how to elevate – and that’s where the power will come from.
For now, Hoerner is just 14 games into his AA career, but so far so nice: .327/.421/.490, 169 wRC+, 12.3% BB rate, 12.3% K rate.