by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Cubs have summoned the latest piece of their future, bringing Jorge Soler to the Majors. Signed in 2012 to a nine year, $30 million contract you have to wonder what type of deal he would’ve gotten today. Given the power potential, you would have to think he would’ve received at least double that (especially after the success of Jose Abreu and the monster contract Rusney Castillo just signed).
Of course, from a fantasy perspective what do we care? It has no impact on what he can do on the field, so let’s take a look at where our expectations should be moving forward.
One of thing clouded our judgment has been the injuries suffered over the first two years of his career. Last season was cut short due to a stress fracture in his leg, and he has also suffered from hamstring injuries each of the past two years.
That said, in 621 PA in the minors he’s hitting .308 with 28 HR and 17 SB. That should tell us all we need to know.
Prospect 361 gave the following scouting report prior to the season:
“As with many Cubs prospects, Jorge Soler has excellent bat speed resulting in hard contact to all fields. His setup is very quiet with only a simple lift of his lead foot as he starts to accelerate his swing. The hands are strong and quick but the pure swing is not as smooth as you would like. Could he be exposed as he progressed to the upper minors? Perhaps, but I think the swing will work to at least allow him to tap into his plus-plus power potential.”
He’s played across numerous levels this season, but he has continued to make solid contact regardless (20.3% strikeout rate). Overall his average is a bit inflated, but that ability to make contact and the power potential should allow him to hit for at least a decent average, though it’s not a guarantee.
The strikeouts could take another jump and the contact hasn’t been great in his 127 PA at Triple-A, where he produced a 14.3% line drive rate (league average is 18.8%). It’s not a significant red flag, just something that’s worth monitoring. Overall he owned an 18.2% line drive rate in the minors, so it’s probably more of a nitpick and the result of a relatively small sample size.
Everyone talks about his unlimited power potential, though his 27.3% HR/OFB in the minors this season does seem a bit extreme. Again, we are splitting hairs to find a negative, but we have to keep it realistic.
So what exactly should we expect for the remainder of 2014? The average could dip, though with the ability to make decent contact we’d expect something in the .260-.270 range. Couple that with some decent power, let’s say 4-5 HR, and maybe a SB or two and there’s a lot to like.
It’s not unthinkable that he produces like a Top 50 outfielder from here on out, though it’s not a given considering there should be an adjustment period. Still, the upside makes him worth owning because it’s not impossible that he catches fire. That said, don’t consider it a given he produces gaudy numbers either.
Sources – Minor League Central, Prospect 361
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