Jorge Soler Is NOT The Second Coming (But I’m Still Unrealistically Excited About Him)
With little to get excited about beyond the prospect of Theo Epstein’s great (but as of yet unfulfilled) vision, Cubs fans are looking to hang their hats on just about anything they can find. That’s why people are fawning over Starlin Castro, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he is not all that good. Bryan LaHair was the next big thing, but realistically he may not be anything special either. Which brings us to the big new signing by the organization, Jorge Soler. Beyond all the great headline opportunities utilizing his last name, what does he really bring to the table? We don’t need to get into his real age here (19 seems a little unlikely, no? I’m guessing more like 22 or 23, but whatever), but let’s talk a little about his supposed skills. I’ve gathered some tidbits from around the web, as well as impressions from what I’ve heard on TV and in the papers. Here is a totally unreliable and unsubstantiated aggregation of what I’ve heard with no citations:
Physical Attributes: He is 6’3″ 200 pounds. He appears to be an actual athlete and not just a baseball player.
Hitting: His numbers in international competition show that he almost never strikes out, so thats good. I haven’t heard anything about him hitting great for average, but if he is at least putting balls in play that’s definitely a good thing.
Power: This is supposedly his big asset. My understanding is that he doesn’t muscle up to try to hit home runs, but has a natural power that allows him to line drive home runs out of the park without necessarily trying to. Ideally he could be a 30 home run guy.
Speed: He’s fast but for some reason he gets thrown out stealing. The rumor is that his speed, which is above average, does not make up for his inability to read pitchers while he’s on the basepaths.
Fielding: Right fielder. Decent range and a very good arm.
So what does this all mean? The Cubs seem to have gotten a good deal with him for 9 years and $30 million, but it seems like there are all kinds of arbitration clauses in the contract, meaning if he gets good, they will have to pay him more than the $3 million average a year. Also most scouts say he is 3-4 years away and will probably start in low single-A ball. The floor is obviously that he is a bust, but his ceiling seems to be a .280 hitter with 30 home run power and decent fielding skills. That would sure be nice to have in the middle of our 2015 World Series contending lineup, no?