Next up in our MLB Draft profile series is a California-born infielder whose Stanford Cardinal are currently the third-ranked team in the NCAA, Nico Hoerner.
5’11, 195 pounds
DOB: May 13, 1997
Palo Alto, Calif.
Slot recommended bonus (No. 30): $2,275,800
Note: All information of draft prospects compiled from Internet sources, scouting reports and video.
Another player that’s shown great improvements throughout his college career, Hoerner might be a bit of a reach at No. 30. However, it’s worth taking a look at if you want a high-floor prospect.
Hoerner stepped on the Stanford campus in 2016 as its starting second baseman, starting there in all but one game. He wasn’t extremely impressive at the plate with a .258/.298/.311 triple slash line, but was a steady presence at second. As a Sophomore, Hoerner moved to shortstop and improved in every facet. He was named to the All Pac-12 first team and the All Pac-12 Defensive Team and posted a .307/.357/.406 triple slash line. He hit 18 doubles after hitting only eight in his freshman year, and hit his first career home run. The improvements have continued in his junior year, with a .335/.381/.491 triple slash line and two home runs so far this season (as of Tuesday).
Hoerner clearly lacks home run power, but has gap power that you can work with. Most impressively, Hoerner seems to be improving his approach at the plate every season. As a freshman, he ran a 12.29 percent strikeout rate against a 5.51 percent walk rate. He cut his strikeout rate to eight percent as a sophomore with a 5.4 percent walk rate. This season, his strikeout rate rose to 9.3, but he saw a big jump to a 7.7 percent walk rate.
Hoerner’s best tool is definitely his ability to put the bat on the ball. He has an extremely simple swing from the right side, with quick hands and not a lot of wasted movement.
He’s pretty average everywhere else, with below-average power. He finally began to show signs of speed this season, as he’s stolen 12-of-16 bases. He’s steady defensively, and despite being named to the All Pac-12 defensive team as a shortstop, could be better suited at second base long-term.
Videos courtesy of rkyosh007, The Prospect Pipeline and Baseball America.
Hoerner’s in-house comp, to me, is a healthier Logan Forsythe. Neither player is going to wow you and be a star player that you build around, but these are the guys you want on your team. He’ll give you a solid plate appearance more often than not and not mess anything up defensively or clog the basepaths. Gavin Lux could be another in-house comp, as neither has a stand-out tool but more likely than not will be solid players. MLB Pipeline has a higher comp on Hoerner, calling him a potentially less-fluid Ian Kinsler.
Taking Hoerner at 30 could be a bit of a reach. FanGraphs‘ latest mock has him going 40th, so he wouldn’t be completely out of the question 10 picks earlier, but there’s likely better value to be had.