It was a given that, as one of the Chicago Cubs’ “big three” prospects, Jorge Soler was going to get a lot of attention when he arrived at Spring Training. Sure enough, when he started working out in Mesa yesterday, all eyes were on the huge physical specimen that is Mr. Soler.

Dale Sveum gushed over Soler’s batting practice, comparing his swing to a right-handed Cliff Floyd. Others noted how loudly the ball comes off of Soler’s bat. For his part, Soler says he expects to be in the Majors by next year, and the organization seems to believe he can start the year out at High-A Daytona with a chance to reach AA later this year. He hasn’t even turned 21 yet (that comes next week).

All in all, it was an impressive debut, though it’s obviously a very small slice of what’s to come for him. If he duplicates his minor league success again this year, then at this time in 2014, we can start dreaming on Soler patrolling right field at Wrigley.

And, once again, BN’er Eric is the dude of the day for passing on some batting practice video that he filmed – this time, it’s Soler’s explosive swing:

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Reminds me of a young Dave Winfield.

    • terencem

      There’s definitely a resemblance. He gets extension without having a “long” swing.

    • DaveY

      Winfield had a hitch in his swing that moved his head during his swing. Soler doesn’t have it and in this video looks much more smooth.

  • Ivy Walls

    If he can hit the bender’s and adjust to the off speed stuff, the sound and contact seem to be quite natural, he is big

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Why would he hit my icon?

      • MichiganGoat

        Somebody needs to hit the robot 😉 my hooves has no impact

  • kygavin

    Loud and beautiful. I like this

  • Dan

    Thanks for passing your video’s on to the rest of us. I really enjoy stuff like you’ve provided the last couple days. Much appreciated!!!

    • Dan

      Correction: Thanks Eric*….

    • Eric

      my pleasure. im happy to be able to send these to Brett so that you can all see them. I’ll do my best to get some video from the intrasquad games on thur and fri.

  • Tony Hein

    His swing reminds me of Soriano, a bit.

    • kygavin

      I can see that with the leg kick, but i think it is a bit shorter than Sori’s

  • Jim

    He never stops moving in the box, hopefully that isn’t a hindrance. The swing looks good but it is just batting practice fast balls. I am looking forward to seeing him in some Spring Training games.

    • TC

      That might be the nature of BP, just trying to get into rhythm up there, but you’re definitely right. That much movement in game action would be an issue

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Cliff Floyd’s best year was 2001 in Florida w/a 6.9 WAR:

    149 G, 629 PA, 31 HR, 123 R, 103 RBI, 18 SB, 9.4% BB, 16.1% SO, .261 ISO, .317/.390/.578/.968, .400 wOBA, 146 wRC+

    • dabynsky

      I would be very happy if we got that from Soler.

  • X The Cubs Fan

    He’s the clean Sammy Sosa

  • Jeremy

    Such a beautiful swing. Nice, quiet and compact. Love it. I hope we get to see some Javy Baez BP soon too.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Do you know what day he turns 21? My 21st is the 20th.

  • McKaley

    Has anyone else seen hands as fast as his? As soon as he decides to swing his hands are behind his head. He really is a specimen.

  • Die hard

    Leg kick will disappear once he faces major leaguers and this will affect his power- he also has to try to hit everything to right center to take advantage of extra base speed like Clemente

  • Marc N.

    Highest offensive ceiling in the organization? The other obvious candidate is Baez.

    • Brett

      Together with Vogelbach (who may be the most complete hitter), those are your three obvious choices. Not sure there’s a wrong answer.

      • Luke

        I think Almora has a higher total offensive ceiling than Vogelbach. Vogelbach is competing with Soler for most power (and Baez is just one tier down), but Almora has some speed to his game that should make him an all-around better offensive player to Vogelbach (assuming both players make it).

        And that isn’t a shot at Vogelbach. I’m as high on him as anyone.

        • Marc N.

          Not that I disagree with this – I’m fully on the Almora wagon – but it’s rare to see it written. The hive/consensus thought is that Almora is more “solid” than high ceiling as those two can’t meet.

          • Brett

            I’ll represent the hive.

        • Brett

          Higher offensive ceiling? I can’t agree there. There’s nothing in Almora’s ceiling that Vogelbach doesn’t have, plus Vogelbach has tons more power. Almora’s speed is really only considered average. That doesn’t make up for the huge power difference. Similar average, similar OBP (though it seems like Vogelbach already has a much more advanced approach at a similar age). I’ll take the huge power potential over the average speed.

          I’m just talking ceiling here. Seems like Vogelbach’s ceiling is a .300/.400/.600 guy (emphasis on ceiling). Almora’s is probably more on the order of .330/.400/.500.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            How much overall speed does Almora have? I’ve read a few places that what makes him such a very good looking CFer is that he gets a great read on the ball: he doesn’t chase it, he intercepts it. I’ve also read that coupling this with good acceleration makes up for lack of great speed.

            (That should bode well for Almora’s baserunning, too: if he can get to top speed in a couple of steps, make those steps quickly, and have a good idea where the ball is headed, then he’ll be a great first to third or even first to home runner, even if he’s not inducing Doppler effects.)

            Now, good speed obviously << great speed, but what is Almora's speed supposed to be, exactly?

            • kygavin

              I have been about as low on Vogelbach as anyone else here, but thats not because of his bat (my only offensive concern with him is that he wont be able to reach the outside pitch due to his body). He has a much higher OFFENSIVE ceiling than Almora but isnt anywhere close to being as well rounded or as likely to reach said ceiling.

            • Brett

              I believe I’ve seen “50” in multiple spots. Parks said he wasn’t a speed guy, and I believe he used the word average.

              • TC

                The scale on “Average speed” changes though. Parks has said that 50 speed in the minors is above average in the majors. For example, Castro has average speed, but that plays way up in the majors just cause everyone around is so much slower than the 18-23 year olds in the minors

              • Luke

                I’ve seen 50 to 60 on speed for Almora, and that would be about average… for center fielders. Not for position players in general.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                OK, I just wanted a clarification. It does not really concern me: a guy with average MLB speed who reads balls well off of the bat is going to be a plus fielder and base-runner.

                Regarding the shift in “average” speed downwards from miLB to MLB, there probably is another reason for that. You’ll get a lot of position players who are signed in part because speed is one of their “tools,” only to discover that they lack the hit tools to play MLB. It’s actually related to the reason why I find fielding WAR to be so misleading: a guy in AA can be a better fielder than the gold-glove winner at his position, but if he has a AA bat, then that’s where he’ll stay. DItto that on base-running and other things related to speed.

                • DaveY

                  I agree with DocPeterWimsey. Also, I believe when they grade a player’s speed, they are refering to his offensive speed running the bases. Defensively they think more in terms of range than speed. How far can a player go to get a ball? This depends on the reaction to the ball off the bat. How quickly does a player react after contact and does the player take the most direct route to the ball. Also, how quickly does the player accelerate which is different from pure speed. On the infield, if you haven’t caught the ball in 2 seconds or less after contact then the ball is probably past you and in the outfield. There’s more time in the outfield so pure speed is more useful but reacting quick and reading the ball well off the bat provides more range. This is why players such as Rey Sanchez or Jim Edmonds with average speed were such great defenders.

              • Dumpgobbler

                IIRC it seemed like the scouting reports had Almora at average or a tick above speed. The thing that set Almora apart was the reads that he gets on defense. That part of his game is elite, and makes scouts think he could play a major league CF today.

                • Marc N.

                  Almora’s instincts in general were rated very highly and the speed he does have plays very well on offense as well as defense.

                  “You’ll get a lot of position players who are signed in part because speed is one of their “tools,” only to discover that they lack the hit tools to play MLB.”

                  If you read a scouting report on former Theo first rounder Reymond Fuentes it reads like Almora with more speed and less hit. Also like Almora, he got Carlos Beltran comparisons. That might have been because Fuentes was his nephew or something.

  • Stinky Pete

    Soler is available in yahoo fantasy baseball. Baez is not. Just sayin’

    • Jason

      I’m sure it’s because he’s on the 40 man roster.

      • X The Cubs Fan

        It’s because he’s on the 40 man

  • bearzs99

    is vogelbach getting time in RF ?
    we could get a look at soler in left jackson in center and vogelbach in right by september..

    • Marc N.

      No looks in RF and no chance he’s up in September. If any of that were possible, he would be the left fielder in the group.

    • X The Cubs Fan

      September 2014 maybe

    • Luke

      Let’s give these guys a chance to play in full season ball somewhere before we start slotting them into the Cubs lineup. Boise to Chicago is titanically huge leap to make in one season. Even two seasons is really pushing it.

      • Cheryl

        I agree. We need to sit back and give them a full season somewhere. But if the projections are that Rock Shoulders and Vogelbach are both at Kane County could we see them alternate at first base and the outfield? I doubt that V would sit out half the games there and allow Shoulders to play first.

        • Luke

          Vogelbach will appear at 1B and DH. Shoulders in left, 1B, and DH. Shouldn’t be any problems finding enough at bats for both.

      • MichCubFan

        And they are going to get a full season worth of ABs in Triple-A. 2015 is the earliest that Baez, Soler are going to come up and Vogelbach and Almora are going to be behind them.

        • Cub2014

          Baez and Solar could see action this September. Both start in Daytona if they hit well could be AA by June or July so September call up isn’t out of
          The question. But I think they will be competing for spots on 2014 cubs.

          • Serious Cubs Fan

            I hope Baez and Soler don’t come up this season. 1) don’t start there arbitration clocks for another year or 2. 2) I want both of them to learn the game. don’t bring them up till they are completely ready (ex: Cory Patterson never really learned the game, got by on natural talent and hurt his career because of it.)

            There is absolutely no reason to bring them up this year unless they make double AA pitch and AAA pitch look like high school (probably not going to happen). I’d rather them take there time and safe that clock and bring them up when they learn how to play their position at a high level and learn how to have patience and learn the strike zone at the plate in the minors.

          • Luke

            I would be very surprised if Baez were called up in September this year. He is not yet on the 40 man roster, and the Cubs would gain literally nothing by adding him this year.

            Soler is just the opposite. He is already on the 40 man, and I do expect him up for a September cup of coffee.

          • MichCubFan

            Theo has said that he wants every player to get a full season worth of at bats in triple-A before they come up to the majors. That means that Baez and Soler would have to already have to have been in triple-A for them to come up this season.

            They will both probably start ’13 in A+ and finish it in double-A. Then they would start ’14 in double-A and finish it in triple-A. That means that they would start 2015 in triple-A and eventually come up to the majors sometime in mid-2015. And that is without any roadblocks along the way.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      People have worried about whether Vogelbach has the footwork and quickness to play first, nevermind the OF. However, one thing we never read about is Vogelbach’s arm: that’s the last thing anybody really “sees” for a 1Bman, after all. Does he have any sort of arm? Or is it just his size that keeps him slotted for 1B/DH?

      • Cheryl

        Good question. A while back the FO said he was working on his body. We know he’s lost weight which should help with his speed and possibly his agility at first. He’s got to have a better arm than Campy. He’s also very aware of the game from what I’ve heard – no lack of concentrationon when he can advance a base or not.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Advancing bases is not a “concentration” issue: it’s knowing where the ball is going to go. The guys who just jump and run are the guys who see the ball off of the bat and realize that it’s (probably) going to get into the gap. (Those are the guys that you also see get most badly burned when an OFer pulls off a great catch!)

          The guys stuttering and stumbling are the ones who just cannot tell where the ball is going. You’ll see everybody doing this during games with really whacky wind conditions. It’s not lack of concentration: heck, if they were not concentrating at all, then they’d look a lot better by just running or just staying.

          Now, Vogelbach has a good batting eye, and that’s part of the same very basic tool: very quickly knowing where a baseball is going to wind up as soon as it leaves the pitcher’s hand/batters bat. So, he probably has a good idea once the ball is hit where it’s going to go. Things like acceleration can be improved with training, too.

      • Luke

        I’ve not anything reliable on his arm, and not for a lack of looking. I get the sense from a few places that his arm would be OK in left or on third, but probably isn’t an option for right. I think that’s more speculation than anything with a solid basis, though.

  • Stu

    The future outfield:


    Jackson-4th OF

    • deej34

      I really like the kid and hope to see big things but I think it is pretty safe to say that Vogelbach will never start in the outfield… Just saying..

      • COW142

        You are most likely right, but he looks more athletic than Greg Luzinski or Pete Incaviglia. Neither were very serviceable in the OF but that was overlooked due to their power and the 1980 Phillies won with Luzinski out there.

        • COW142

          Inky was also on the 1993 Phillies that went to the series.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Both Inky and Luzinski could actually judge the ball pretty well: they were not slow, but they ran pretty straight to where the ball was going to land. And both had serviceable arms, too. We’ve never read anything about Vogelbach’s arm. He’s got a good batting eye, which means he (probably) has the basic tool for good flyball judgement, but, again, we’ve got no data on that.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Sorry, that should read: “they were slow”: of course, Luzinski might not have been even that fast….

            • COW142

              He also had an 8 time gold glover in Garry Maddox playing next to him so you could hide The Bull out there a bit.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                heh, indeed, that might have helped: a LFer with good range would have probably collided with Maddox quite frequently! Even in the 1970’s when people used errors as the be-all and end-all of fielding prowess, people realized that Maddox had exceptional range.

      • frank

        I agree–if scouts are doubting whether he can stick at 1b, outfield is really pushing it.

        • MichCubFan

          I think Vogelbach will come up in 2016 as our starting DH. Of course he could also play 1st base for us, get traded, or not pan out.

  • Colocubfan

    Big thanks to Eric for providing these videos. Much appreciated and fun to watch!

    • Marc N.

      Yeah, that’s probably the best BP video from ST released so far.

    • Eric

      you’re welcome! Glad you enjoyed it

  • Marc N.

    Speaking of extremely young, extremely high upside players – what’s the word on Castro during early Spring Training? I heard he gained some muscle mass over the winter during the Convention, but I have yet to see a picture.

    It’s weird to say a player like Castro is massively underrated by fans (Cubs and not), but I think I got there this winter.

  • TC

    One thing I noticed that is hopefully just a symptom of early season batting practice is that his hands move quite a bit. After the normal waggle before he starts his swing, there’s a big movement back and up to his “load” position, and then he has one last little waggle/movement/hitch at the top before coming through with his swing. It’s not a big problem, but I imagine that’s something they’ll try to smooth out of his swing before he hits the majors

  • Teddy Ballgame

    I’m gonna go bigger picture on everyone here….two years ago, not many of us we’re that knowledgable when it comes to individual farm players. While I think people have always taken interest in Cubs prospects, I think the depth of knowledge goes a lot further now than it used to. I feel like this is what the new regime has us fans thinking about. We’ve all been “re-programmed” without even knowing it to look at the bigger picture and get to know our minor-leaguers more personally. When these prospects make it to the bigs, we’ll appraciate them that much more because we’ll know all about them and we all will have been following them for a few years already. Just can’t wait til this is seen through the enitre way with one end result…WIN our last game of the year!!!

  • jt

    Fans forget that baseball is a game of 30 yard sprints. The few tenths of a second lost with a poor jump is hard to make up by just pure speed.
    Willy Mays used the basket catch in order to save a tenth of a second on his load to throw. He figured that cut off a yard off the runners pace.

  • Cheryl

    Doc, Separate question. Do you ever take into consideration something other than statistics in regard to baseball? I agree statistics are important but somtimes I wonder since the vast majority of your input is statistical.Don’t get me wrong I value your input along that line.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I don’t take anything else into account simply because for the vast majority of the players, I have no data about the exact tool sets that underlie the statistics. So, whereas I have read that Almora has great ball-reading skills, that’s an exception: for most players, I have no such information. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to *find* that information for most players! (And, of course, who has the time?)

      Fortunately, ideas about exact tool sets make predictions about players’ statistics, and thus we can say that an idea is “likely” or “unlikely” based on how well it predicts those statistics. (Which, and not by coincidence, is how I do science!) We also can say whether ideas about those tool sets (e.g., power increases with age or something like that) predicts statistics in general, which in turn is a good way to ask how probable it is that a guy will be able to improve in one area or another.

      Ultimately, this is a “pattern vs. process” issue. Occasionally, we get hard information about the processes (i.e., the raw tools and skills), but usually we just have the patterns (performance). To avoid negative evidence arguments about players for which we lack the tool information, I generally omit it.

      • Cheryl

        OK. Thanks. I understand more of where you are coming from.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Albert Almora reminds me of Starlin Castro and the “hit off the island” mentality (even though he’s from Miami). 2 walks in 145 PA in our system and 0 walks in 44 AB for Team USA (although he hit 20/44). I think he’s got a long way to go, especially with his average speed (he was only sent from 1B 7/32 times, 2CS). On the bright side, this was all in 33 games and his RF/G is similar to Brett Jackson (playing CF) in the minors.

    He may be the most “complete, 5 tool” player in our system, but he has holes in his game and his ceiling is lower than what people are hyping. Where is he going to hit in the lineup if he hits for little power and doesn’t take walks? It’s the same scenario as Starlin Castro coming up his first couple of years. I’m still not sold on this kid, but I like the attitude and the work ethic. I hope it pans out.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Ordinarily, I am the first person to be troubled by lack of walks. However, Almora also is not K’ing much: and the other expectation of bad batting eye is a lot of K’s. Also, Almora is getting a ton of hits.

      When you get this combination (very high BA, low walks, low K’s), then that suggests that the opposing pitchers simply cannot get strikes past Almora: if it’s in the zone, then he hits it. If so, then we should expect him to both walk (and K) more as he faces improved pitching where guys can get more strikes past him.

      • Luke

        That’s my read of it as well. But I’m not going to relax until he shows me that is the case at the plate.

        Right now I think I’m seeing a good hitter who isn’t being challenged. But there is this tiny voice that whispers “Josh Vitters”, and I can’t make that voice go away.

  • North Side Irish

    Patrick Mooney ‏@CSNMooney
    Garza leaves live BP session with trainer after talking it over with Sveum and Bosio.


    • Luke

      Injury appeared to be on his left side. He’s a right hander. It likely is not his arm.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I have to say the way the ball jump off Soler’s bat, made Soler’s Batting practice video look much more impressive then Brett Jackson’s bp video. but still its only bp so doesn’t really mean that much

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  • JoyceDaddy

    I love Soler’s potential. I think Vogelbach could turnout to be a big-time prospect once he reaches the AAA level, in which I could very easily see Theo and Jed trading him to acquire someone at a trade deadline. In the end I think Vogelbach being blocked by Rizzo will result in a trade. If he can get in good enough shape to the point where he could be serviceable in LF/3B/ETC then maybe he stays.

  • http://n/a MooseMan

    Why didn’t you credit Tim Huwe with the Soler BP Youtube link? He put it up on Feb 15. You took it and made a new link on Feb 16.

    • Brett

      I credited the person who filmed the BP, and sent it to me via email – Eric. Whether he sent it to other people as well is beyond my control.

      I suggest reading the post before you accuse someone of something so serious.

  • Pingback: Some Spring Notes; Soler Still Hits the Ball Hard (Video), and Garza Had Mild Lat Strain « Born on Third()