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With the year coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is looking back on the top moments from the 2019 Cubs season.

Cubs top prospect Nico Hoerner went back home to California after his Double-A season with the Tennessee Smokies ended on Sept. 2. The 22-year-old was set to have a few weeks off before heading to the Arizona Fall League later that month.

Then, the Cubs came calling.

With both Javier Báez (fractured thumb) and Addison Russell (concussion) on the mend, the Cubs had no true shortstop healthy. In response, they promoted Hoerner to The Show on Sept. 9, a move which otherwise wouldn’t have come until sometime in 2020.

It was fair to wonder how much Hoerner would contribute at the plate following his promotion. He fared well in Double-A last season (.284 average, .344 OBP) but missed two months with a wrist injury, playing 70 games. He also missed most of 2018 with injury and has played in just 89 minors games since the Cubs drafted him 24th overall in 2018.

Then-Cubs manager Joe Maddon inserted the rookie into the starting lineup immediately, and Hoerner didn’t disappoint. He went 3-for-5 with a triple and four RBIs on Sept. 9 against San Diego, also having a busy night defensively at shortstop.

Hoerner’s high-contact rate is one of his top offensive attributes and it was on display immediately. He fought off a tough pitch in his first at-bat, dumping a down-and-away breaking ball into right field for his first career hit. He added a smash down the left field line for a two-run triple and a line drive single into center field for two more RBIs.

Although his promotion didn’t culminate in a postseason berth, Hoerner left a great impression on the Cubs. He hit .282 with 17 RBIs in 20 games, demonstrating valuable defensive versatility by playing shortstop, second base and center field.

The sample size is small, but Hoerner proved he should be a big part of the Cubs next season. It all started with an unexpected debut in San Diego in the midst of a heated pennant race.

Watch the video above for a flashback at Hoerner’s MLB debut.

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