Chicago Cubs: Nico Hoerner makes uneventful first appearance

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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 The Chicago Cubs’ 2018 first round draft pick, shortstop Nico Hoerner made his first big appearance this week. Is this Addison Russell’s future replacement at shortstop?

The Chicago Cubs took on the Los Angeles Angels in Tempe, Arizona during a spring training game on Tuesday. The Cubs drove in two runs in the first inning but then went stagnant at the plate as the Angels piled on nine runs en route to a win.

The Cubs’ 2018 first round draft pick, shortstop Nico Hoerner made his first appearance at the top of the seventh inning, when Cubs shortstop Addison Russell hit a double that bounced off the back wall of the ballpark. Hoerner entered the game as a designated runner but couldn’t advance before the side was called.

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In the bottom of the seventh inning, Cubs manager Joe Maddon put Hoerner in at his usual  shortstop position, taking Addison Russell out of the game. Halo outfielder Jarrett Parker was on second base when catcher Roberto Pena scalded one toward Hoerner who slid on the dirt trying to corral the ball with his body. The ball hit off the top of Hoerner’s glove and trailed into centerfield allowing Parker to score on the error.

In the 9th inning, Hoerner made it to bat and led off for the Cubs.  Hoerner hit a bouncing grounder to the Halos pitcher Dillon Peters and recorded the first out of the inning. The Cubs ended up losing to the Angeles on the road (2-9).

Hoerner’s appearance on the field testifies to the Cubs use of their farm system to groom players toward potential holes in the lineup. While no one thinks Hoerner is ready to fill Russell’s shoes during his upcoming suspension, it is not unlike Joe Maddon to possibly use the young ballplayer in a game once the Cubs have a good lead.   Tony Andracki of NBC Sports Infinity Network  recently reported:

When a fan at the “Down on the Farm” panel at Cubs Convention asked about exciting prospects in the Cubs system, director of player development Jaron Madison eagerly threw out Hoerner’s name.

"“Not just as a player and how athletic he is and how dynamic he is, but also the person and teammate and the leader he is,” Madison said. “He has a chance to be really special. He’s on his way; he should be a pretty quick mover.”"

Whether it be nerves or just a bad break, Hoerner’s first appearance as a Chicago Cub was uneventful. However, with good players on the bench like Ben Zobrist, David Bote and Javier Baez to fill in at short, Maddon does not need to rush Hoerner out on the field during Russell’s upcoming suspension, ‘quick mover’ or not.

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Maddon should continue to groom the young shortstop for a future Cubs team when Russell’s name and bat are worth the dollars to trade. By then, Hoerner should be ready.

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