Prior to the season the Cubs’ Nico Hoerner earned a “B-” grade, as we ranked him as the team’s fourth best prospect. That said he was hardly a can’t miss prospect, as here’s an excerpt from what we said preseason:
He spent most of the year at Double-A (294 PA), though his approach is in question a little bit after a big regression upon his promotion (SwStr%):
- Double-A – 6.1%
- Majors – 10.3%
Obviously we’d expect the MLB number to improve with more experience, though he also had a 48.6% O-Swing% and didn’t draw many walks even at Double-A (7.1% walk rate). There also are questions about how much power and speed he’ll develop, and without those things the skill set isn’t overly enticing.
Hoerner continued to show little power and speed at the highest level, with 0 HR and 3 SB over 126 PA. With just 4 doubles and 0 triples it’s hard to envision the power suddenly coming around, and the underlying metrics only further support that:
- Launch Angle – 0.8
- Exit Velocity – 87.5 mph
- Brls/PA% – 0.8%
So he rarely made great contact, which is further evidenced by his 29.1% Hard%. With the power likely not there and obvious mediocre speed, what exactly are we buying?
While his approach did improve in 2020 (7.5% SwStr%, 31.1% O-Swing%), is that enough to get excited about? At best Hoerner is a one-trick pony, but even his average doesn’t offer very much upside as a groundball-centric hitter (55.3%) with little power or speed (.279 BABIP in ’20).
In other words, Hoerner is easily ignored.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant