Talk about coming into the big leagues with a bang.
Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler is off to a spectacular start, the second member of the Cubs “fab five” prospects to receive a promotion following Javier Baez’s call up last month. Soler stands in at 6’4 and 225 pounds with the athleticism of an NFL receiver.
Judging by his impressive stature and even more impressive debut thus far, there’s a legitimate chance he’ll be the best player of the fab five- Kris Bryant, Baez, Addison Russell, Soler and Albert Almora- when its all said and done.
Ok, maybe I’m drinking the Soler Kool-aid a bit because it’s been a goddamn blast watching him play in his first seven games, but is it really THAT crazy to say?
I know some rank him fifth overall of the Cubs prospects and some have Albert Almora as a higher rated outfielder, but lets break it down for a second. All of those guys- Bryant, Baez, Russell and Almora- could easily pan out and reach their lofty potentials, but Soler’s raw natural talent makes him stand out. I mean, the guy was precisely compared to the talent of Yasiel Puig while both were in Cuba.
What Bryant has done in 2014 is unreal and he certainly has the most realistic shot to be an MVP candidate one season, and I won’t discredit him for a second. But this article is about Jorge Soler, so let’s assume the Cubs might have two MVP candidates because it’s more fun that way.
The attribute that makes Soler such a special player is his plate discipline. He’s played nearly a full MLB seasons worth of games in the minor leagues, hitting 28 home runs, 43 doubles and scoring 108 runs while driving in 117 more. Those numbers are ridiculous and everything, but its his discipline at the plate that will make him elite. Through those 544 career minor league at-bats, he struck out only 105 times while drawing 66 base on balls. A great ratio these days, especially for a guy that has such a powerful swing.
His defense in right field is also a plus, moving well for a big man and he has a cannon for an arm. He will probably be tested early while he adapts to the speed of MLB players, but it wouldn’t surprise me if people stop running on him after they see a couple counterparts get hosed.
But there a couple things that scare me with Soler. As I mentioned earlier, he was compared exactly to Yasiel Puig, and I literally mean exactly. As in, he’s had a lot of bonehead “I’m too good for this game” moments. With raw talent like his, he could get away with it in Cuba. But this is the big leagues, and I’m sure that under the guidance of Spanish speaking manager Rick Renteria, it shouldn’t be a significant issue. He also seems to be ‘injury prone.’ Playing in only 151 games from 2012-2014, Jorge missed a lot of crucial at bats in the minors due to a broken left tibia last season and hamstring injuries previously.
Now to look at what Soler has already done in the majors. I’ll admit it’s a very small sample size, but again this is a Jorge Soler article so let’s hold the premature excitement talk for now. In just seven games, he is hitting .462 with three home runs and 10 RBIs. Soler hit two doubles in his fifth game of the season, only to see his slugging percentage decrease. He has an RBI in six out of those seven games, and became just the third player ever to record an extra base hit in each of his first five games. Ever.
All from a 22 year old.
As those accomplishments will tell you, things seem to come very easy for Jorge Soler. Despite his young age and short minor league career, the words “major league ready” are all over everything he does. Pair that with the raw potential I highlighted earlier, and the Cuban’s ceiling is unmatched in the Cubs system- even by the remarkable Bryant.
And he’s signed with the organization through the 2020 season, so get used to hearing the name Jorge Soler a whole bunch over the next few years.
Who knows, maybe you’ll even hear it when they announce the MVP one season.
(Featured image from Mike LaChance)