Chicago Cubs call up top prospect Nico Hoerner to address infield woes

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

With both Addison Russell and Javier Baez out of the picture, the Chicago Cubs are turning to top prospect Nico Hoerner with their season on the line.

As the Chicago Cubs boarded their flight from Milwaukee to San Diego Sunday, things looked bleak. The club dropped three straight to the rival Brewers, Jon Lester turned in another dud of a start and Addison Russell, who had been starting at shortstop for the injured Javier Baez, was undergoing concussion protocol after being hit by a pitch.

Make no mistake – things still look pretty bleak. Fangraphs pegs the team’s odds of winning the NL Central at just over 17 percent. But Chicago is hoping for a boost in the form of 2018 first-round pick Nico Hoerner, who is set to join the team in San Diego, according to multiple reports.

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Hoerner, still just 22 years old, spent the year at Double-A Tennessee, where he slashed .284/.344/.399 across 294 plate appearances. He could fit really nicely with the Cubs’ current roster, given the fact that he has this wild concept when it comes to offense – make contact and limit strikeouts.

Last fall, he torched Arizona Fall League pitching to the tune of a .337/.362/.506 line in 21 games, prompting many who follow the team to wonder if he could be on the short path to the big leagues. But after fracturing his wrist earlier this year, we had to pump the brakes on such an idea – until now.

Personally, I’m a big fan of this move. Sure, he’s very green, with just 89 career games under his belt – but given the alternatives, this is definitely the move that has the highest potential upside. We haven’t yet gotten an update on Russell or Baez – and with the Cubs desperately trying to hold on to the second Wild Card spot in the NL, you simply can’t trot David Bote out at shortstop the next three weeks.

Better yet, Hoerner has a good deal of experience playing multiple positions. He’s seen considerable time at second, shortstop and center field this season – allowing manager Joe Maddon to maintain his beloved roster flexibility. That being said, given the team’s current shortstop predicament, it seems likely that’s where he’ll receive the lion’s share of reps.

Next. Without Baez, this team is running out of magic. dark

It’s been awhile since we had a prospect as highly-touted as Hoerner make his big league debut. But he’ll join fellow former Cubs first-rounders Kris Bryant, Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber and look to help propel the club back to the postseason – or, at the very least, make sure the front office takes note of what he can do at the big league level.