Chicago Cubs: Nico Hoerner diagnosed with fractured wrist

(Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images) /

Perhaps the Chicago Cubs’ most promising prospect was recently diagnosed with a fractured wrist, sidelining him after a promising start to the season.

The Chicago Cubs already thin farm system took a hit on Monday.

The team announced that infielder Nico Hoerner was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his wrist. Theo Epstein discussed the injury in a video posted by the Chicago Tribune:

Epstein explained in the video that Hoerner will be in a splint for three weeks and will miss at least a month due to the injury.

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A hot start derailed

Hoerner, who is ranked the Cubs’ No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, began the 2019 season at Double-A Tennessee. It was an aggressive move to send him up to Double-A and skip High-A, but thus far in the season, the move was paying off.

In 18 games with the Smokies, Hoerner batted .300 with a .391 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage. His 161 wRC+ is well above average, as well.

The Cubs selected Hoerner out of Stanford in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft as part of an effort to return to what they’ve been successful at in the draft: finding good college hitters who progressed through the system quickly and produced at the big league level. (See Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant for a few examples)

And with the decision to start Hoerner in Double-A this season, it wasn’t necessarily out of the question that he could have reached the big leagues by the end of 2019. Had his success continued in Tennessee, a move to Iowa could have been realistic in the near future.

Not his first encounter with the injury bug

This isn’t the first time Hoerner has had a good start derailed by injury. In his first professional season in 2018, he started off strong but was placed on the disabled list in mid-July with a strained elbow ligament.

The injury ended Hoerner’s season, but he returned to play in the Arizona Fall League and showed no signs of regression, slashing .337/.362/.506. So he proved his ability to rebound from an injury and continue to produce.

This year’s injury isn’t likely to end his season completely, barring any worsening or reinjuring. If all goes as scheduled, he could return around the end of June or the beginning of July, with plenty of time to put together an excellent minor league season. But a big league call-up this season seems almost impossible now.

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Hoerner remains the highlight of the Cubs’ thin farm system, and this injury doesn’t change that. He’ll still be on track for a possible call up in 2020, and he could even be a valuable trade chip at this year’s deadline, should the Cubs decide to continue to sell off the farm in search of big league help.