Photo via Born on Third

Within the contours of reasonable expectation (tough to delineate when a kid gets a 9-year, $30 million contract right out of Cuba), Jorge Soler’s debut in the United States has to be considered a success.

After an acclimation period in Mesa, Arizona, Soler started his career with 14 games in rookie ball, putting up a modest .241/.328/.389 for the AZL Cubs. From there, he was sent out on his real test: full-season A-ball in Peoria. It was expected to be a challenge, even for someone of Soler’s obvious raw talent, and he responded well. Over 88 plate appearances, the 20-year-old hit .338/.398/.513, striking out just six times (he walked six times, as well), and launching three homers and five doubles.

Further, and more importantly, Soler came in with the right attitude and work ethic that have his coaches believing he’ll fulfill the promise of his physical gifts.

“He’s a great kid. He walks into the room and the first thing you notice is that he’s a big, strong man,” Peoria Chiefs manager Casey Kopitzke told CSN’s Dave Kaplan. “He’s been a great pleasure to have. Watching him go about his work the way he has is real exciting. He has outstanding power and he is playing very well defensively for us and he has an excellent arm in right field.”

Soler’s hitting coach at Peoria, Barbaro Garbey, a fellow Cuban defector, also sees the talent and hard work, but cautions that it’s still going to be a long process of adjustment for the young outfielder.

“Soler is raw but that is because he knows nothing about baseball and the way that it is played in America, unlike players such as Sammy Sosa who came from the Dominican Republic where they were exposed to Major League Baseball,” Garbey told Kaplan. “Soler comes from Cuba, where you don’t see games from the US on TV. He doesn’t understand yet how hard you have to play every single day and what it takes to succeed in the big leagues but we are working with him everyday on what it takes on and off the field.

“Believe me, he is a great talent and he is the future for the Cubs, that kid. He still gets frustrated when he doesn’t get a base hit every time he is at the plate but he is working hard and he will get to the point where the people in Chicago are going to see a superstar pretty soon.”

For now, Soler is expected to participate in instructional ball in Mesa, with – I’m guessing – the possibility of playing winter ball in an organized league. If all goes well, developmentally, it’s a fair guess that he’ll start out 2013 in High-A ball (Daytona), with a chance to reach AA Tennessee if things go extremely well.

  • @cubsfantroy

    That is great news for the Cubs. Hopefully he becomes the superstar that he is predicted to be.

  • TSB

    After Felix Pie, the gods owe us one…

    • Jim L.

      They owe us way more than one.

  • Spriggs

    Can’t tell you how excited I am about Soler and Baez! Such high ceilings and such huge talents.

  • Pistol Pete

    Soler Moon Fri!

    • Stinky Pete

      Nice one, Punky!

  • fromthemitten

    he should just go straight to AA I’m afraid rain might delay his development in Daytona

  • Steve

    Dear God…dejavu.

  • Myles

    I’ve always been a fan of very aggressive promotion, but in Soler’s case I don’t think it’s a great idea. He really needs the time in the minors to learn how to play American baseball and get acclimated to the States.

    That being said, the best way to teach him is to show him that success/failure at the plate is not as important as The Process, so if it takes putting him in AA so he can struggle and learn the most valuable lesson a hitter can, so be it.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      He really needs the time in the minors to learn how to play American baseball

      Cuban baseball is no different than American baseball. And success at the plate is much, much more important than some mythical “Process.” As soon as Soler looks like he can be a high OPS hitter at the next level, then move him up to that level.

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        bingo…cespedes ring a bell?

        • Ogyu

          Cespedes is six years older than Soler. Also, his unusual contract also made it mandatory for the A’s to rush him. As it turns out, they got lucky and Cespedes is doing well, but that’s no reason to conclude that rushing Soler would be a good idea. This is one area where I am perfectly content to sit back and let the coaching experts do their job. They have no incentive to bring the kid along any slower than necessary.

          • Ogyu

            oops – “almost made it mandatory”

          • http://bleachernation loyal100more

            im completely with you on this make no mistake. i only wish to illustrate the fact that players coming from cuba are more, lets call it polished, then say a player coming out of high school or collage. the curve of progress will be different for alot of IFA’s. cespedes only serves as an example of how well and quickly an IFA can progress. this by no means is a winning idea or a formula i would suggest we use with soler. i think soler will advance quicker than our other homegrown talent, and dont think fans should be concerned if exactly that happens. im REAL high on this kid and fallow his progress with great expectations, high hopes and a belief that his farm experience should suit him as an individual player.cubans can and should be slightly advanced simply from playing at an accomplished,”professional” level before they even get to the states.

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        solers “process” is going to greatly differ from the other young prospects in the farm. we cant package there progress.

      • MichCubFan

        Well, its not all about moving him along quickly…he needs to learn everything from a good hitting approach to how to get a jump from second base on a fly ball to how to play a fly ball in the outfield.

        I do think he is going to move on quickly but i want him to understand how to play and not just to float along on his talent.

        But i do trust Theo and crew to make the right decisions. I think they have a good handle on things.

  • someday…2015?

    Would it be realistic to see Baez, Soler, and Almora at Tennessee next year, all at the same time?

    • someday…2015?

      And Vogelbach…

      • Steve

        Dear God, my Ballpark Frank just “plumped”. If all those cats are @ Tn. next year, then they will play in Chattanooga against the Lookouts…and I am…gulp…1 hour away.
        Im afraid I might just sensory overload.

    • Stinky Pete

      I think three levels for a kid who is not even 18 1/2 is pretty aggressive. Maybe he starts at Peoria (Kane County) and does well and gets to move to Daytona. But another move? He would have to really be raking. I mean like crazy hitting.

      • Steve

        I like prospects that “crazy hit”… Where can we get some of those???

    • Nate Corbitt

      I sure hope so since I’m about 90 minutes away from Smokies Park.

    • Cedlandrum

      I don’t know if it is realistic. It is possible I guess. Baez would have the best shot along with Soler, but Almora and Danny V. only played in Boise. Best guess is the highest they climb next year is Daytona.

  • Ash

    I’m not going to criticize the Cubs either way if Soler takes the fast track or if he ends up as a 2015/6 major leaguer. I really feel like Soler already believes he’s good enough to be starting at Wrigley. If he turns that confidence into performance in Daytona, and proves himself for half a year in Tennessee, I think he’ll have earned a serious look out of Spring Training in 2014. If not, let him develop as long as needed. And just for the record, Soler turned 20 this year.

  • Hee Seop Chode

    This article made my afternoon.

  • willis

    Soler excites me. And I do agree I think as long as his fall/winter go ok, he’ll be starting off in Daytona next season. Same with Baez. And I can see both at TN by the middle of the season.

  • rcleven

    Got to see him last Sunday against Kane County. He is a raw talent. His arm is not a cannon but better than average ( through out runner at first after runner rounded first). Made the average fly ball catches. Hit cut off man on infield grass from deep right on the line.

    Only mistake I saw him make was an attempt at stealing second and went into second standing. I won’t say he would have been safe if he slid but it would have made it a lot closer call.

    You can see he can handle the bat. Smoked a single between short and third that was bye both fielders before either had a chance to react.

    I see him starting the year with the Chiefs and moving up by late spring.

  • JR

    I love Soler’s swing from what I have seen. To me him and Shark are the best things that happened to the Cubs in a yr when a lot went wrong.

  • IrishCubColt

    So does he have 8 years left on his contact? Does this year count as a year, assuming it does, but just making sure

  • steve

    I am so excited about the young hitting talent in our system, we have the look of being talent laden in a few years. Theo & company made a good start adding good young hitting talent in our system, & I can’t wait to see them continue to add to these kids. In a few years our farm system will be flush with talent keeping a constant stream flowing to chicago. I can only assume we will also have good young arms to go with the hitters we are gonna be producing. I can’t wait to see it come to pass.

  • die hard

    hope he is more than a DH as Cubs could also use a better glove in LF…one that can cover ground unlike the current occupant

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