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2018 MLB Draft: Cubs select Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner in 1st round.

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The Cubs got a college shortstop with top bat skills in the first round.

Nico Hoerner
Nico Hoerner rounding third base.
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 24th pick in the first round of the 2018 MLB Draft, the Cubs selected shortstop Nico Hoerner from Stanford University.

Hoerner is a 5’11” shortstop who hit .345 with a .391 OBP with the Cardinal this spring. Scouts who like Hoerner praise his all-around game and especially his ability to put bat on the ball. Few in college baseball struck out fewer times than Hoerner and he struck out just 22 times (with 20 walks) in 232 at-bats this season. His power is limited at the moment and while some think he could develop more, others see his power potential as limited.

Defensively, he doesn’t wow anyone, but I’m going to guess that the Cubs are in the camp that believes that Hoerner can stick at shortstop or they wouldn’t have drafted him. Others think he has the ability to be a “super-sub” who could move around like Ben Zobrist or Ian Happ. I’ve also seen an Ian Kinsler comp put on him, although that might be a little optimistic from the power tool.

Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod said of the pick

Nico is a talented middle infielder who handles the bat extremely well, hits to all fields and has a high contact rate. He hits the ball hard, and we think there is more power to come He has multiple tools on the field, and all the background work we did shows he has incredible make-up. He fits exactly what we’re looking for in the organization.

Here’s an except of what Baseball America wrote about Hoerner before the draft.

Teams that like Hoerner will see a player with a shot to stick at shortstop with strong hands in the box, a good strikeout-to-walk ratio and impressive exit velocities. Teams who are on the opposite side will see a player who’s likely a second baseman without the power profile they are looking for. Either way, college infielders who perform tend to get drafted high and Hoerner has performed in both the spring and summer with no gaping holes in his game.

And here’s part of what Keith Law wrote about Hoerner.

Hoerner isn’t very toolsy but has produced well for Stanford while playing a solid enough shortstop that someone will take him with the idea that he’ll stay at the position long-term. Hoerner’s best skill is his ability to put the bat on the ball; his swing starts very short from load to contact, and the exaggerated finish doesn’t produce much power. He’s a slightly above-average runner and could stay at short, but it’s more likely he moves to second or becomes a super-utility infielder.

And here’s a bit from the MLB Pipeline writeup on Hoerner.

Hoerner has a pretty good track record of performing well for an extended period of time, perhaps saving his best year for the right time in terms of the Draft. He can impact the baseball consistently, with an advanced approach at the plate, and while the numbers don’t necessarily reflect it, there is some power for him to tap into. Hoerner runs fairly well, though he isn’t overly fluid in his actions. That leads to some questions about his ability to stay at shortstop, with some seeing a return to second base in his future.

Here’s some video on Hoerner.

So congratulations to Nico Hoerner and a big welcome to the Cubs Family. We look forward to your journey through the minor leagues and seeing you make your debut at Wrigley Field sometime in the future.

With their second-round pick, the Cubs selected center fielder Brennan Davis from Basha HS in Arizona. Davis is a fast player whose season season has been hobbled by a hamstring injury. He’s also spent a lot of his high school career playing basketball, so he’s a bit rawer even for a raw high-school player.

Here’s a little of what Baseball America says about Davis.

An above-average or better runner when healthy, the 6-foot-4, 175-pound Davis uses easy, graceful strides in the outfield and on the bases, an his above-average arm gets good carry. The big question with Davis is the development of his bat, as he is still very raw at the plate. . . .Davis is your typical high-risk, high-reward prospect who would likely require two years of Rookie ball before advancing to a higher minor league level if he signs. He could go as high as the third round, but Davis is an outstanding student who could choose to honor his commitment to Miami if he drops too far in the draft.

One assumes the Cubs are confident he will sign for second-round money.

Here’s what Keith Law wrote about Davis.

Davis started his season late because he was playing basketball, and his best tool, his speed, was seldom on display because of a hamstring injury. He’s a very likely center fielder with a chance to end up plus there, bringing bigger questions on whether he’ll hit enough to be a regular.

With the two compensatory picks that the Cubs got at the end of the second round for losing free agents Wade Davis and Jake Arrieta, the Cubs selected OF Cole Roederer of Hart HS in California and RHP Paul Richan from the University of San Diego.

Roederer was compared to Andrew Beintendi earlier this season, at least before he separated his right, non-throwing shoulder “horsing around with teammates” according to Baseball America. They added:

With hints of all five tools and growing power, Roederer has the upside of an above-average everyday center fielder, but other scouts are skeptical of his size and injury history, which also includes a pulled hamstring this year. He is strongly committed to UCLA and will be an expensive sign.

So Roederer is a high-risk, reasonably-high reward pick. I have little doubt that the Cubs are confident of signing Roederer away from his UCLA commitment or they would not have picked him.

Richan was the Friday-night pitcher for the University of San Diego and yes, that’s Kris Bryant’s alma mater. Here’s some of what Baseball America had to say about him.

Richan is a polished righthander with a four-pitch mix, headlined by a plus slider. At his best, Richan’s fastball sits 91-92 mph and touches 94, and he can mix in an average changeup as well. He uses his fastball and changeup to get ahead and then finishes batters with his slider . . .

The MLB Draft continues with rounds three through ten on Tuesday starting at noon Chicago time. You can follow along on mlb.com and the picks will be done through a conference call with limited analysis. The draft then concludes on Wednesday.