Giving the Chicago Cubs’ Nico Hoerner more time in the minors is crucial for his future
The Chicago Cubs’ Nico Hoerner took a big step back in 2020 after a standout 20-game stretch in 2019 to begin his big league career. A lack of time to develop in the minor league systems really showed in his 2020 campaign, and the Cubs need at the second base position was a cause for that. As we forward into 2021, Hoerner needs to restart his development, and spending time in the minors will be crucial for that.
Hoerner burst onto the scene in 2019 when they were in need of a late-season spark. The first-round pick out of Stanford batted .282 with 17 RBI’s in 20 games with the team. He also added 22 hits and 13 runs scored. He brought the hustle and energy that the team desperately needed and is one of the reasons he was called upon frequently in 2020.
We saw Hoerner take a step back in 2020, however. In 48 games, he batted .222 with an OPS of .571. Sure, arguably, the whole Northsiders offense had issues but with a young guy like Hoerner, allowing him to develop at a normal pace is crucial. The Cubs vacancies at second have caused Hoerner to be apart of this club prematurely.
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Hoerner has several tools that this Cubs group needs; the ability to hit for average and drive in runs. There is so much potential for the 23-year-old, and the Cubs need to prioritize his development over winning to make sure he can tap into his full potential.
Second base was messy for the Cubs in 2020, and they have an opportunity to bring in a veteran to fill the void. Having a veteran at the position is another key piece for Hoerner’s development. Having someone he can look up to and learn from would be invaluable to the youngster. DJ LeMahieu, Tommy La Stella and Jonathan Schoop are a few notable free agents that could provide that veteran leadership at the position for this team in 2021.
We saw what time in the minors could do for a young talent in Ian Happ. After spending quality time in Iowa during the 2019 season, we watched him hit a stride and he led the team in OPS at .866 in 2020. It may not be the player’s ideal destination, but embracing the time to develop and improve ultimately makes one come out better on the other side. Hoerner has a similar grinder’s mentality, so I have no doubt he would take advantage of more time in the minor leagues.
Hoerner is the second baseman of the future, but it’s not his time yet. The Cubs don’t need to rush him up the big leagues and emphasize bringing in a serviceable second baseman this offseason, so he does not feel pressured to develop quicker than he can. The future of Hoerner depends on how they manage him in the next few seasons.