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jorge soler peoria chiefs cubsWrigley Field made entirely out of LEGOs? Wrigley Field made entirely out of LEGOs.

Soler’s 2012 debut was essentially him shaking the rust off, but there are things that stand out. The first thing that catches one’s eye is Soler has the build of an elite athlete. He has a lean muscular frame that oozes athleticism. Soler’s upper legs are well developed and provide him with a powerful base. His chest and back are impressive too, but further growth of his upper half shouldn’t be unexpected.

Despite the layoff, Soler’s tools are exceptionally loud. Power will be the Cuban’s carry tool, but he also posses a plus arm and average or better speed. His power is derived from the immense bat speed he generates with his hands and hips. His hands begin in a high load and require minimal movement before he rifles them forward in conjunction with his hip turn. The power projection comes not only from the bat speed, but the lift and leverage present too. It’s easy to grade his future power a six or seven and its utility should not be undermined by his hit tool.

  • It goes on to discuss some challenges Soler will face this year, but, hey, who wants to hear that part? Actually, you probably do, so go ahead and read the article.
  • Other top prospect Javier Baez on Alfonso Soriano’s leadership: “If he sees you doing something lazy or not doing it right, he’ll tell you to do it the right way. Every time. If he goes to the weight room and I’m not in there, he sends somebody to get me. He takes care of me. He’s not doing it in a bad way, but in a good way. So I just follow him everywhere.” These are the subtle things to keep in mind when we discuss a Soriano trade (in addition to keeping in mind the non-subtle things like production, age, contract, defense, Cubs record, etc.).
  • Starlin Castro’s return has now been pushed back another three or four days! He’s going to miss a week and a half with “mild tightness/inflammation” in his hamstring! Why do things keep getting worse!? Ok, actually, with respect to Castro, I’m not worried, and don’t feel like this is one of those why-are-they-playing-games-with-injury-information situations. Castro has been doing everything normally – batting practice, out on the field, etc. – and the trainers can’t even get Castro’s leg to simulate any discomfort by moving it around. Castro legitimately is just getting extra rest because it’s so early in the Spring.
  • The guy I’ve frequently mentioned as perhaps the most likely non-roster invitee pitcher to win a bullpen spot, lefty Hisanori Takahashi, may indeed have a “good shot” at making the team, per Paul Sullivan. But before I got straining my elbow patting myself on the back, it’s notable that Sullivan says Takahashi is being looked at as a possible long reliever, rather than a situational lefty. I have always liked the idea of an “other-armed” long reliever (i.e., if most of your rotation is righty, a long-arm lefty), but Takahashi’s success has largely coming in a LOOGY role. He’s getting a start on Wednesday, so clearly the Cubs want to see how he looks in multiple innings.
  • Carlos Villanueva, who is set to open the season in the rotation because of Matt Garza’s lat injury, continues to say all the right things: “We’ll need [Garza]. We’ll need him later on. I’d rather him be 100 percent healthy and not rush into anything and feel bad. He’s going to miss a week or two weeks, then so be it. Nobody really remembers the beginning, they remember the stretch run. As long as he’s 100 percent ready for that, we’re ready to have him back. For us in position now, we have to take advantage of the opportunity and help the team win.”
  • Dale Sveum likes what he sees from Dan Vogelbach: “That’s one guy, from all the video I’ve watched, you can just tell some guys can just hit. They’re more patient than other hitters, obviously the bat speed is fine. For a young kid, he’s pretty polished already as far as pitch selection and trusting himself.”
  • The Cubs have a new General Manager of Spring Training Operations in Mesa – Justin Piper joins the organization from the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks (additional Tony Campana compensation, I’d reckon). Piper will oversee all business activity at the new Cubs Spring Training Facility, including sales, marketing, facility operations and community affairs. In other words, he’s the top Spring Training dog from a business perspective – a relatively important role when an organization is launching a new nearly $100 million Spring Training facility.
  • Anthony Rizzo is ready to play for Team Italy. His first game is Thursday, against Mexico. On Friday, Team Italy plays Canada, and on Saturday, Team Italy plays the United States.
  • For those into college basketball, BN’er Dan asks for a little support for a classy player – vote for Ryan Broekhoff of Valparaiso for the Lou Henson Award (essentially Mid-Major Player of the Year) here.
  • Cubbie Blues

    I noticed Sveum didn’t say anything about Vog’s defense.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Other than he shouldn’t change positions right now.

    • Craig

      With Rizzo gone a few days, I wonder if Vogel will get some starts

  • Edwin

    Alfonso Soriano is this team’s big toe. If I was to go into battle with Soriano on my side, I’d be right behind him. Every step of the way.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Or, like, slightly to one side of him, to continue the toe metaphor. Unless you’re the main part of the foot. Or the elbow or something.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Quite being such a heal.

        • Cubbie Blues

          *Quit

          • Coldneck

            *heel

            • Cubbie Blues

              5 words and 2 of them misspelled. Brilliant!!!

    • beerhelps

      We could call him “Sgt. Hulka”

      • Danny Ballgame

        I was thinking the same thing

  • JB88

    The comments in Sussman’s blog are also well worth a read as Sussman delves into his thought process on Soler, including discussing his hit tool and grammatical nuances of phrases like “wouldn’t be unexpected” …

  • North Side Irish

    I liked that Sussman called Baez’s bat speed “dreamy”…

  • Rob

    Open question – If Takahashi might make the team as the “other handed” long reliever….then what would Travis Wood be? I mean, if Garza and Baker are back by May 1 – could we have 3 lefties in the pen? (T. Wood, Russel, Takahashi)

    • Blublud

      Wood is a starter. He will be in the rotation all season.

  • Seth

    I know I’ve said it before but I just really can’t wait to see this stance now from Villanueva.

    [img]http://backinblue.kc-media.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/carlos-vilanueva-batting.gif[/img]

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The very best reason for him to be a starter.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Dude looks like he can mash

        • Seth

          If he can hit off one foot he can probably mash ;)

    • TonyP

      What is the world is that???? Lol

      • TonyP

        in the world….

    • cubchymyst

      You think that will bother Rowson or Deer enough for them to try to fix his swing some. I know your not expecting a lot of offense out of the pitcher, but I imagine that makes any hitting coach cringe a little.

  • Greg

    Gotta love Soriano at this point in his career. With a young team like ours, we need that clubhouse presence to bring these kids along.

    And come on!! How can you NOT vote for Doug McDermot for Mid-Major POY? Really!!

  • Timmy

    Is it me or did fangraphs’ assessment read like a euphemistic penthouse letter? It’s gotta be on purpose.

    • Timmy

      just for the record: “oozes”, “well developed”, “chest and back are impressive”, “further growth”, “Soler’s tools are exceptionally loud”, “carry tool”, “high load”, “rifles them forward with his hip turn”, “power projection”, “hit tool”.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Enjoys long walks on the beach, candle light dinners, and 2-0 fastballs

  • wax_eagle

    plus arm, good speed, excellent power. upside = Young Barry Bonds? Yeah that’s probably over the top….

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Bonds actually didn’t have a very strong arm, although it was accurate. But the biggest part of what made Barry such a great hitter was his incredible batting eye: he might have rivaled Ted Williams on that count. Too bad Bonds was such an unlovable sociopath! (Of course, Teddy Baseball wasn’t much loved until long after he retired, either.)

      What little information we have suggests that Soler does actually have a good batting eye, and not just “good for a Cub” (= “qualifies as vision impaired on 29 other teams”). But batting eyes like Bonds had are very rare things.

      • hansman1982

        In 2007, Bonds had a 21% uBB rate. That is just insane and Ted Williams territory.

        • Cubbie Blues

          On top of that he had a 4.4% swinging strike.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          One caveat that we should put on that is that Bonds played with a much smaller strike zone than Williams did and pitchers were throwing off of a flatter and shorter mound against Bonds than they were against Williams.

          However, Bonds also played against a lot more pitchers who consistently threw harder, and he also saw more sliders every year than Williams did his entire career. Bonds also faced a ton of lefty specialists: in Williams day, that phrase probably meant something about communists!

          My guess is that both would have thrived in either era, and that both would have been considered grade A jerks in either era.

  • Blublud

    I’m glad Sveum sees what I see in Vogs. That guy can’t just flat out hit. His approach at the plate is defintily elite. His pitch selection will allow him to hit for average because he seem to know what pitches to swing at and what pitches not to swing. When he puts the ball in play, it usually on a pitch he knows he can do some damage with. Our other top prospects, such as Baez and Almora get criticized for this and Vogs never gets credit for already being pretty develop in this category. His Power is unquestioned, and his patience or ability to wait for that pitch may not be parallelled in our system.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      *You* criticize Almora for it, nobody else does! Almora has not gotten to a level where pitchers can get strikes past him with any consistency. Unlike Baez, people have not noted Almora for swinging at non-strikes.

      Still, we won’t know how good Almora’s batting eye is until he gets to a level where pitchers can get *strikes* past him and/or where they are deliberately throwing balls outside of the strike zone to get him out.

      As for Vogelbach, scouts have noted that there are decent sized parts of the strike zone where he cannot handle pitches, particularly high strikes on either side of the strike zone. That could cause him problems later.

      • hansman1982

        Ya, while Almora didn’t walk in Boise, he also only K’d 7% of the time (all swinging, btw). Vogelbach K’d 20% of the time (16% swinging, 4% looking).

        FWIW, Brett Jackson K’d 19% of the time in Boise.

  • Coldneck

    Off topic, but congrats to Ace for the mention in the following Fangraphs article.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/cubs-wrigley-restoration-plans-stymied-by-local-interests/

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks. Wendy is an awesome writer, and an excellent follow on Twitter, by the way.

      • Coldneck

        FanGraphs is must see TV.

  • Nick Nesler

    Also off topic but one of the guys who has stood out to me in limited time is Chavez. I don’t no much of his background but this kid is a beast and looks similar to Jorge. He plays good defense, has a strong arm, and power to go with it. He’s definitely fun to watch.

  • DarthHater

    Was the picture of Lego Wrigley taken from a rooftop made of Legos? :-D

  • gocatsgo2003

    While it’s all good and well to read about the tools the youngsters possess, it is more exciting to me that the Front Office has a real, discernible plan for their development: Baez is unquestionably your best prospect, so go ahead and draft the unusally mature kid from Florida in Almora and hope he can encourage his development and then add in Soler as another kid with ungodly tools but can be helped along in his development by Almora. Get these three guys together, bring them through the system at roughly the same time, join them up with guys like Aroydis Vizcaino, Junior Lake, and Brett Jackson in the upper reaches of the minor leagues, and form your new core for the future (in addition to Rizzo and Castro).

    Wouldn’t it be fun to see a 2015 lineup with Castillo (C), Rizzo (1B), Baez/Lake (2B), Baez/Lake (3B), Castro (SS), Jackson (LF), Almora (CF), and Soler (RF) with Vizcaino as your Opening Day starter? While there are obviously a number of things that could work to alter those plans (injuries, trades, whatever), that lineup is at least somewhat plausible… and Castillo would be the “old man” of the group at the ripe old age of 27.

  • DarthHater

    Exclusive photo of Lego Wrigley men’s room remodeling project:

    [img]http://www.artsymagnet.com/storage/2012.01.25-279.jpg[/img]

  • chirogerg

    Another random bullet: Rhett Wiseman, an unsigned draftee from last year, hit a walk-off bomb for Vanderbilt on Sunday

    • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

      Wiseman was unsigned due to the CBA. In fact, the CBA pretty much clinched him going to Vandy, as nobody wanted to waste a second or third round pick on a guy who wasn’t going to sign.

  • Die hard

    The now deceased Chavez wanted MLB to expand there — with him gone and Cubas Castro not far behind watch for this to happen

    • TWC

      Oh, sure. The MLBPA and MLB would totally be down with contracting the season to accommodate all of the additional full days of travel needed to make a Venezuelan team work. Brilliant.

      • Die hard

        And then arbitrator will have to take into account this $50 mil offer when considering his value after he opts out

        • TWC

          You really have no filter, do you?

          Are you *sure* you’re not my father-in-law?

  • gocatsgo2003

    Look, I can type gibberish, too!

    LKJASHDKLFJHASKLDJFHAKLSDJFH

    • gocatsgo2003

      ^^^^ Response to Die Hard’s inane post above.

      • Die hard

        And after Soler and others born south of the border join him the new league will have more talent than MLB forcing a merger as what happened involving Joe Namath and NFL AFL but Soler will be playing for the Cuban Cigars, not the Chicago Cubs

        • DarthHater

          [img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8374/8532152447_89213e243d_m.jpg[/img]

  • Die hard

    Lets see your reaction when Soler offered $50 mil to give credibility to new league like what happened with Bobby Hull

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://cdn.memegenerator.net/instances/250×250/31338536.jpg[/img]

      • DarthHater

        That’s right. That’s what I said. :-P

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