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Cubs draft Stanford's Hoerner in first round

'He's a multi-tool athlete with incredible makeup,' McLeod says
MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner fit all the criteria the Cubs were looking for and may be another position player on the fast track to the big leagues.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Cubs Draft pick

CHICAGO -- Stanford shortstop Nico Hoerner fit all the criteria the Cubs were looking for and may be another position player on the fast track to the big leagues.

Draft Tracker: Follow every Cubs Draft pick

The Cubs selected Hoerner 24th overall in the MLB Draft, the first of four picks by the team on Monday. In the second round, they picked outfielder Brennen Davis of Basha High School (Chandler, Ariz); and with back-to-back compensation picks at No. 77 and 78, the Cubs chose outfielder Cole Roederer out of Hart High School (Calif.) and University of San Diego pitcher Paul Richan.

Hoerner was high on the Cubs' wish list going into the Draft.

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

"First and foremost was his ability on the baseball field," Cubs scouting and player development director Jason McLeod said of Hoerner, 21. "This is a talented player who can really swing the bat, it's a high-contact bat. We think there's more power in there in terms of extra-base hits, in terms of lifting the ball. We really love what he can do at the plate.

"He's a multi-tool athlete with incredible makeup," McLeod said. "He's a leader on the field, he's a leader in the dugout, he's incredibly passionate and all about winning. He's exactly what we're looking to bring into the organization."

Hoerner batted .345 in 57 games with Stanford this past season, hitting 17 doubles, six triples and two home runs, while driving in 40 runs. A right-handed hitter, the junior from Oakland, Calif., was named to the All-Tournament team in the NCAA regional.

In his freshman season, Hoerner started 53 of 54 games at second base, batting .254. He moved to shortstop his sophomore year and started all 58 of Stanford's games there, batting .307, and was named to the All Pac-12 defensive team. He played in the Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer and hit .301, and said that experience was key to his development.

The Cubs have had success with position players taken in the first round. That list includes Javier Baez (2011), Albert Almora Jr. ('12), Kris Bryant ('13), Kyle Schwarber ('14) and Ian Happ ('15), who are all on the current Cubs roster.

"It was pretty amazing seeing one of the graphics they showed on the [MLB Network] Draft show with the previous position players they'd drafted," Hoerner said. "Seeing those names -- obviously, they're guys you know really well -- is really special. The main experience I've had with Cubs fans is I played in the Northwoods League after my freshman year in college. There's Cubs fans everywhere, man. They love the Cubs and they're knowledgeable about the game and to be a part of an organization with that kind of fan base is really special."

Tweet from @Cubs: #Cubs selected shortstop @nico_hoerner in first round of the 2018 #MLBDraft: https://t.co/jRtuO0oABS pic.twitter.com/Npzg0ngqig

Hoerner may have met a few Cubs fans while playing for the Madison Mallards, but he didn't know the Cubs were interested in him prior to the Draft. He'd asked his advisor not to tell him which Major League teams were scouting him.

"I was lucky to be on a really successful team this year, and we had a team that was focused on winning, and I think that brings out my best attributes," said Hoerner, an American studies major at Stanford. "The Draft process was pretty smooth."

McLeod said the plan is to leave Hoerner at shortstop for now but they think the versatile athlete is capable of moving almost anywhere on the field.

"We think he can play shortstop, but he's such a good baseball player, I think if down the road, we asked him to move somewhere else, he'd do it flawlessly," McLeod said. "He's a really talented baseball player.

"One of the things that's so good about him is that elite hand-eye coordination," McLeod said. "That's a natural hitting ability that not many people have."

"I'm going to play shortstop as long as that's OK with them," Hoerner said. "That's what I love to do and I think I can do it at a really high level, but at the same time, I think I can play every position on the field if need be. I just want to win ballgames."

Davis, 18, a former basketball standout, gave up that sport to focus on baseball and has made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Miami. This past season, he helped Basha post a 24-5-1 record, batting .444 in his senior year. In 38 games in his last two years of school, he batted .426 with 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 41 runs scored.

Roederer, 18, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, has committed to UCLA. He led his high school in most offensive categories in 2017, and this year he batted .392 in 18 games.

Video: Draft 2018: Cubs draft OF Cole Roederer No. 77

Richan, 21, struck out 101 batters over 89 2/3 innings and walked 13 in his junior season for San Diego. He was a reliever at the beginning of his collegiate career, then moved into the rotation and became a weekend starter. He graduated from Hart High School, the same as Roederer, and the alma mater of current Cubs pitcher Mike Montgomery. Plus, Bryant attended San Diego.

Video: Draft 2018: Cubs draft RHP Paul Richan No. 78

The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 11:30 a.m. CT, with exclusive coverage beginning at 12 p.m. CT.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

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