Hoerner wasn't a consensus first-rounder when the Cubs spent the 24th overall pick and a $2,724,000 bonus on him in the 2018 Draft, but that now looks like a steal. Though he missed time with strained left elbow ligaments in his debut and with a hairline fracture of his left wrist last April, he has displayed a potent bat and advanced rapidly when healthy. Injuries to Javier Baez and Addison Russell necessitated an emergency big league callup last September, and he responded by hitting .282 with three homers in 20 games.
Hoerner makes contact more easily than most hitters because he has tremendous hand-eye coordination, a short right-handed swing and a disciplined approach. Hitting just three homers in three years at Stanford led to questions about his power, but he has surprised the Cubs with the strength in his hands and ability to drive the ball with wood bats. If he can continue to learn to lift more balls in the air, he could hit 15 homers per season.
Enhancing his offensive profile, Hoerner possesses solid speed and the savvy to steal an occasional base. He's a reliable defender with good instincts at shortstop, though his range and arm are no better than average for the position. Most scouts think he fits better at second base -- he has earned some Ian Kinsler comparisons -- and he also saw some action in center field last summer.
Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 45 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55
The Cubs got quick returns on their first-round investments in college hitters in 2013-15 with Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ, and it appears they will again after going back to that demographic for the first time in three years. Since signing for $2,724,000 as the 24th overall pick in June, Hoerner has lived up to his reputation as one of the best hitters in the 2018 Draft class. He has handled every challenge Chicago has given him, including an Arizona Fall League assignment last offseason and a promotion to Double-A to start his first full season, slowed only by strained left elbow ligaments last summer and a hairline fracture of his left wrist after getting hit by a pitch this April.
Hoerner excels at putting the bat on the ball, thanks to his uncanny hand-eye coordination, compact right-handed swing and controlled approach. Though he hit just three homers in three years at Stanford, he has strong hands and has driven the ball in his short history with wood bats. He has the sneaky power to hit 15 homers per season, not to mention the patience to draw walks and the solid to plus speed to steal bases.
Though he has the quickness and athleticism for shortstop, scouts are mixed on his ability to stay there. His instincts and reliability stand out more than his range or arm at shortstop, so he may be better suited for second base and has drawn comparisons to Ian Kinsler. His tools also should allow him to play the outfield if needed.
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 40 | Run: 60 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50
The Cubs hit on all three college bats they took in the first round from 2013-15 (Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ) before not having a first-round pick in 2016 and spending two on pitchers in '17. They went back to that demographic again this June by spending the 24th overall choice on Hoerner. Signed for $2,724,000, he posted a 1.021 OPS in 14 games before his pro debut ended when he strained ligaments in his left elbow diving for a ball.
With outstanding hand-eye coordination and a controlled approach, Hoerner excels at making line-drive contact from the right side of the plate. While he hit just three homers in three years at Stanford, he showed more power with wood bats in the Cape Cod League and Chicago believes his strong hands will translate into more power in pro ball. He also has the plus speed to steal bases and could fit atop a batting order if he draws a few more walks.
Scouts are mixed on Hoerner's defensive future. There are some who believe he can get the job done at shortstop, while others think his actions and his average arm are better suited for second base, where he played as a freshman in college. His quickness and athleticism also should give him the versatility to play the outfield if needed.