The Cubs are closing in on an agreement with first-round pick Nico Hoerner, reports Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (via Twitter). The former Stanford shortstop is expected to sign for the full slot value of $ 2.724MM that comes with the No. 24 overall selection, according to Mooney, and he’ll begin his pro career with the Cubs’ short-season Class-A affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds. MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat tweets that all that remains for the deal to be finalized is a physical, which should happen later this week.
Chicago, it seems, was a bit more bullish on Hoerner than most pre-draft rankings. Hoerner ranked 37th in the class in the estimation of Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, while ESPN’s Keith Law pegged him 39th, Baseball America ranked him 42nd and Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tabbed him 52nd.
Those reports indicate that there’s somewhat of a split among scouts as to whether Hoerner can remain at shortstop or will require a move to second base or the outfield. BA makes note of his impressive exit velocity and strong hands, while all of the reports note his quality bat-to-ball skills and above-average speed. McDaniel and Longenhagen note that he has drawn some comparisons to Arizona’s Chris Owings.
Hoerner hit .345/.391/.496 at Stanford this past season, with two homers, 17 doubles, six triples and 15 steals (in 19 attempts) along the way. More impressively, he struck out just 22 times in 57 games played while drawing 20 walks in that time as well.