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jorge soler peoria chiefs cubsOverhyping prospects is much a Spring rite as over-interpreted Spring Training stats, sunshine, and tube tops. So, with several top youngsters in camp this year, a hype train was sure to develop.

Right now, the train is firmly attached to Jorge Soler’s caboose. (Or the train is his caboose. However you want to frame that metaphor.)

From the moment he arrived at Spring Training and unleashed a ridiculous batting practice show, Soler has turned heads, particularly those that hadn’t already been fixed upon him. Ken Rosenthal is happy to jump aboard:

So, to the Chicago Cubs official who asked me with a smile, “Don’t crank up the hype machine too far,” I can offer only one possible response:

Your own players are doing the cranking!

“He’s legit, a physical specimen, impressive bat speed — and a rocket arm, too,” outfielder Scott Hairston says.

And left fielder Alfonso Soriano, who knows something about phenoms — remember his two homers and MVP performance in the 1999 Futures Game at Fenway Park? — sounds equally excited.

“He’s going to be something,” Soriano says.

The player in question, outfielder Jorge Soler, turns 21 on Monday. Recently, club president Theo Epstein said to one of the Cubs’ veterans, “Not bad for a 20-year-old, huh?”

“Twenty?” the player replied. “I thought he was 25!” …

“What has been really impressive, all last year and so far in camp, is how into defense and baserunning he is,” Epstein says. “He shows a really good first step in the outfield, takes good routes and has a plus arm with a lot of accuracy and carry. He also has showed a real interest in stolen bases. He was almost perfect last year (12 for 13).”

Rosenthal ends noting that he’s not trying to “crank up the hype machine,” but he can’t help it given what Cubs people are saying. That’s nice to hear. The article is a good read, especially if you want to get even more excited about Soler.

In some ways, the Soler hype isn’t your typical unreasonable, irrational Spring affection. Because Soler was simultaneously more advanced than your typical “new” prospect, and also more unknown, even brief flashes in the Spring offer us more information than they might for other players. Soler didn’t play competitively for a year and a half before debuting in the Cubs’ system late last year. Then, he got just 149 plate appearances in which to make an impression. The returns were positive, but it still wasn’t a whole lot of data.

That is all to say that, for Soler perhaps more than any other prospect, a huge, productive, good-looking Spring Training could tell us quite a bit about his abilities and his future.

(But he’s still just a prospect, who only today turned 21 … he has a long road ahead … many hurdles … most prospects flame out … blah, blah, blah.)

  • bails17

    I have one word….CONTROL!! Love that this guy is locked in for the long term!!

  • TWC

    ” “Twenty?” the player replied. “I thought he was 25!” … ”

    And the stereotyping comments about Latin American ballplayers begin… now!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Hang on, I’ve got my copy/paste response about the large amount of documentation on Cuban professional and international players around here somewhere…

      • TWC

        Bah! That’s just, like, facts and stuff.

  • itzscott

    Rejoice….

    The Cubs have the next Albert Pujols!

    • Timothy Scarbrough

      Nah, he has a strong arm, clearly the next Babe Ruth.

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      Actually, I’m seeing an Andre Dawson with good knees!

      • Bilbo161

        Loved the Hawk reference. I never saw a better hitter. If it weren’t for the knees though he probably would not have been a Cub. Andre had to shame the Cubs into an offer he wanted to play on grass so badly. If Soler is Dawson with knees? O M G I like that!

  • Fishin Phil

    Rejoice, Tube top hype!

    • Cubbie Blues

      Phill wins.

  • Deez

    As much as I want to see our players successful, I’m not buying it.
    I wanna see him doing it at Wrigley until then I have nothing but well wishes for Jorge.

    • BluBlud

      Soler will be doing this around all of the MLB park in about 15 months.

  • Cubbie Blues

    Another reason to look at Soler’s Spring numbers (and Baez’s) is the same reason we usually don’t look at them. There are a lot of AA and AAA arms out there pitching which neither has ever faced. With that being said, you still have to be aware that there is going to be more hangers and the fastballs are going to be straighter.

  • Marc N.

    I still wonder if it’s Soler and not Baez with the highest ceiling in the system. Baez’s edge is that he’s a middle infielder, but Soler might be the more skilled/eell rounded hitter with similar power potential.

    He’s a great candidate to be this year’s Oscar Taveras as far as a talented lower level prospect absolutely exploding in the upper levels.

    • BluBlud

      Nah, Baez still has the higher ceiling, but Soler may have the higher floor. Baez has a 30/30 and possibly 40/40 ceiling where as Soler has a 30/15 ceiling, so I would still have Baez ranked Higher. Soler has the better chance of reaching his ceiling however.

      • David

        If Baez has a 40 HR ceiling, I see no reason why you’d cap Soler’s at 30.

      • JB88

        I’m shocked that anyone thinks that Baez has 30 SB speed, let alone 40 SB speed. When all is said and done and Baez is done filling out, I would be surprised if he has consistent 20 SB speed.

        • Marc N.

          Yeah that’s what caught me off guard. I don’t see that kind of speed at all. The 40 HRs is a little less ridiculous maybe, though I also don’t see how Soler would be capped at 30.

          • Noah

            The difference between Soler and Baez isn’t offensive ceiling, which appear to r very similar for both, but that Baez’s ceiling has him putting up those types of numbers at shortstop.

            • Marc N.

              The MIF thing is a kicker.

            • Marc N.

              The MIF thing is a kicker. That said on offensive skill and potential I might lean Soler just slightly.

    • TheDynastyStartsIn2016

      I’m just thrilled that the narrative is “which one is best”. Maybe they’ll both be great.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Taveras is a good example that we should let em play a bit. While the St. Louis front office and media has annointed him the next Vlady Guerrero, reality has set in a bit.
      He quit his winter league team, saying he was winning all the games for them and wasn’t getting any respect. His former major league playing manager, said he needs to grow up and quit hanging around a bunch of low lifes.
      And this spring, word is, every fly ball is an adventure, and he walks around like he thinks he is Mickey Mantle junior.

      • Marc N.

        Damn so I guess I should have Profar as mytop prospect. Makeup is a thing for me, but I absolutely love Taveras’ bat. I even think/thought he could survive center for a few years.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        “Quit”???

        I read that “he was pulled”. Which is kind of different.
        And he was named the Dominican Winter League Rookie of the Year a month ago, sounds like he played enough to make quite an impact.

  • Matt

    The “train has left the station,” is a generally used idiom for “too late/missed out on,” isn’t it? Ah well. I had to go semantics because someone already grabbed the “20, not 25,” snarky observation. :(

  • RoughRider

    Over-interpreted tube tops is a summer thing.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I’ll interpret them anytime I please. Thank you very much. Besides, when it’s colder you just have to be that much more diligent with your research.

  • Cedlandrum

    wow that Rosenthal article practically gave me wood.

  • hansman1982

    I wonder how having a train connected to his caboose, will effect his speed and defense?

    • Mrp

      I suppose that would be better than having a cheetah taped to your back?

  • dumbledoresacubsfan

    When’s the ETA on Soler’s arrival in Tennessee?

    • Marc N.

      Optimistically I will say June.

      Pessimisticly I will say two weeks before the AA season ends.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        I’m gonna ride the optimistic train and hope he’s there by late May/early June. I want to see this kid play in person so bad.

        • dumbledoresacubsfan

          Also, I shouldn’t say “kid.” I’m all of a month and five days older than him and he could probably crush me like a tin can or something. He’s to praying he crushes baseballs like tin cans for the next 10+ years.

    • Kevin B

      I would not be surprised if he starts the year in AA

  • Coldneck

    Which hole will he bat from when he makes the team? ;-)

  • http://bornonthirdmlb.wordpress.com George Cotugno

    I love that every Soler post has the picture I took! Not being sarcastic in anyway either, it’s just awesome to see it on here, solid stuff Brett.

  • Coldneck

    Some solar power firm has a pitchman in waiting. It’s almost perfect. I’m getting excited about George.

  • Cryinmybluecoolaid

    If Soler continues impress the FO through most of Spring training, I believe Theo and Jed would want to challenge him by starting him in Tennessee.

  • Jono

    We know that hoyer will make all these prospects play one full year in AAA before being called up, and I cannot imagen soler getting to Iowa before the start of 2014. So I can’t see soler getting the call up before the begining of 2015.

    • Kevin B

      Yes that is true the FO likes to have players get 500 AAA at bats but Soler is not your typical prospect. He was a “professional” in Cuba and he appears to be showing he is more advanced then everyone hoped.

      • BluBlud

        I think the 500 or set number of AB for prospects at any level is over blown. Telling a prospect he has to have a set number of at bats no matter what would be doing him, the franchise and the big league club a disservice. If a player is ready, move them. If it takes 100 at-bats, 200, 500 or 1000. That will be determined by the individual prospect. Soler as well as Baez could see the bigs this year, or they could not. But that will be determined by their production, successes and failures on the field and not by some imaginary number of at-bats.

  • Cheryl

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Soler is brought up this year and not just in August, It didn’t take long to bring Castro up. How does he compare in terms of his abilities to where Castro was? If he’s as good as they say, why trade for an outfielder?

    • Kevin B

      I agree Cheryl If he starts out in AA (or gets there after a few weeks) I would not be surprised to see him in the Show this year in August/September. He played internationally in Cuba and he appears to be more advanced then advertised and the real deal!

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    There have been many Dave Winfield and Cliff Floyd comparisons to Jorge Soler.

    149 AB in the low levels of A ball (which he dominated)…

    I say:
    175 PA at Daytona
    175 PA at Tennesee
    175 PA at Iowa
    September call up in 2013
    Starting RF in 2014

    • BluBlud

      I honestly could see this for either Baez or Soler, as long as they produce. But even if they are called up, they go back to AAA in 14 for service clock reasons.

      • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

        There’s no service clock on Soler, he’s an International Signee… he’s under a 9 year contract, that’s why he is on the 40 man roster.

        • hansman1982

          You still want him avoiding arbitration eligibility for as long as possible. If he hits his ceiling you can bet he will opt into arb contracts.

          • BluBlud

            Yeah. I made the same comment the other day. It was the arbitration that made me rethink it. Definitely wanna delay it for as long as possible.

        • Tim

          If he’s ready and the cubs will be competitive next year, they will bring him up

  • Sam

    speaking of Jorge Soler. i need help making a fantasy baseball team name. Its “Soler Power” for right now. any other suggestions???

  • DPRagen

    I just saw where Vernon Wells is retiring after next year. I may just be old and cynical but contracts like his and Soler’s imply something more than simple stupidity to me. Kickbacks anyone?

  • Fastball

    If a kid is ready the service time clock is kind of stupid. Cubs can afford to pay their players. If he is great then sign him to a better deal in a 3 years.

  • Die hard

    Solers trade value would never be higher than now and before teams realize he can’t hit breaking stuff- would consider him and Garza and Marmol for King Felix

    • twinkletoez

      @die hard

      I don’t think I make that trade. The cost of King Felix, and his mystery elbow issues, along with the fact that he has lost 4mph off his fastball over the last 4 years makes me way to nervous about that trade. Change Felix to say Kershaw or Price and I am all in.

      • Die hard

        Solers trade value would never be higher than now and before teams realize he can’t hit breaking stuff- would consider him and Garza and Marmol for King Felix

      • Die hard

        I meant to say that I could live with your modification to my earlier deal

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