A whole lot of interesting and important prospect items to share …
- Jorge Soler is back on the field! Thanks to Arizona Phil at TCR, we know that about Soler, who appeared in just one game – one at bat – at AA this year before a hamstring injury relapse took him back to Mesa, Arizona, where he’d originally suffered the injury in Spring Training. There, he’s been doing baseball activities as he recovers, but he had yet to appear in an extended Spring Training game, which would be the first sign that he could be close to a return to AA game action. Phil reports that Soler DH’d and went 1-4 with a single, but, more importantly, he played the whole game and ran the bases.
- How close could he be to returning? Well, we can’t know for certain, but you’re going to want to look for him to play a few games in the field before you start getting too antsy. It seems like, when guys start playing in these extended Spring Training games, they usually are ready to return in about a week or so. With Soler, since he didn’t play much at the end of Spring Training, and then hasn’t played much since then, he might need a little more time to get ready to go full speed. In other words … let’s not speculate on a specific timetable, and let’s instead just be happy that he’s back in game action of some kind. Hopefully, he’s ready to go to Tennessee soon.
- Speaking of Tennessee, get ready for a huge game on Wednesday. Why? Because the Smokies will be facing Clayton Kershaw on a rehab assignment. If Kris Bryant hits a homer off of Kershaw, think the lefty will plunk him the next time up, a la Mat Latos? I suspect not.
- Mick Gillespie spoke with top Cubs pitching prospect C.J. Edwards on his recent shoulder ordeal, which Edwards described as pretty scary. He goes into more detail on exactly what happened (woke up sore for the first time in his career, tried to throw, and he simply couldn’t locate the ball at all). It sounds like he was incredibly relieved when the diagnosis was just a mild strain, and not anything to do with the labrum or the rotator cuff.
- BP’s Jordan Gorosh was at Kane County this week scouting, among others, starters Paul Blackburn and Tyler Skulina, shortstop Carlos Penalver, and outfielder Yasiel Balaguert. It’s a great eyes-on look at several of the younger, non-top-tier prospects in the Cubs’ system. The short versions (though you’re encouraged to check out the long versions): Blackburn has back-of-the-rotation big league upside and just needs various refinements as he works his way up the ladder (his velocity in the start, by the way, was only in the 89 to 91 mph range, with dips below that); Penalver sounds like an excellent defensive shortstop, but needs a whole lot of refinement at the plate; Skulina wasn’t really topping 90 with his fastball, and the rest of his stuff did not look “major league quality” (though Gorosh concedes this may simply not have been Skulina’s best day, and for that reason didn’t want to make any projections); and Balaguert can really rip fastballs, struggles with breaking balls, and probably won’t be able to play average defense in the corner outfield as he moves up (so the bat will have to carry him).
- A profile on Albert Almora from Sean Kernan. Great, fun read. And congrats and well-wishes to Almora and his family – he shared on Twitter and Instagram that his father had just recently beat cancer.