Watch Chicago Cubs 2B Nico Hoerner blast his first Spring Training homer
The Chicago Cubs didn't string together much offense in last night's game against the Colorado Rockies, but at least viewers got to see franchise star Nico Hoerner launch his first dinger of Spring Training. He's not expected to be a major source of home run power for the team, but with German Marquez and Peter Lambert cruising into the sixth inning, he came to the rescue with a big blast to left field to add some life back into the bats and break the shutout. See the video of his solo shot below:
Any sort of power Hoerner can bring to the table this year is merely a bonus on top of his high-contact, low-strikeout build. Last year, he brought more power to the table, though he still only managed ten home runs and he's projected for around the same in 2023. When he gets into one, however, he's still shown to have solid line drive power. While he's not regularly scorching the ball, his max exit velocity ranks in the 59th percentile. At the right angle, if he gets the barrel on it, he still has plenty of pop to knock baseballs out in a hurry. It's nice to see him get the power stroke working early on.
Prior to last night, he hasn't exactly been setting Mesa on fire with a .231/.231/.346 slash line, good for a .577 OPS with only two RBIs. Part of that may be an adjustment as he gets used to being the new leadoff hitter for the team. He didn't perform particularly well last year either though. His 2022 breakout was preceded by a lackluster .226/.273/.387 performance in Spring Training with no homers to show for it. Even if he can't leave the practice games with great numbers, it's not necessarily an indicator of what his season will be.
Of course, the big plus to Hoerner is his stellar defense at second base. He's already flashed the leather against Team Canada during their exhibition game against the Cubs and, with reigning Gold Glove winner Dansby Swanson manning shortstop alongside him, he's a crucial piece to the team's massively revamped up-the-middle defense. Between that and his burgeoning leadership role, it's far past time the team broke the trend and finally rewarded him with an extension.
The Cubs are back in action with another Cactus League game tonight at 8:05 p.m. CST against the Reds. Only 15 games remain until Opening Day.