In an otherwise dismal season for the Chicago Cubs, boy wonder
GM Theo Epstein decided to pull the lever on a move that should get the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field buzzing again.
This past week, Theo Epstein signed highly-touted Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler to a nine-year, $30 million contract. Soler is being compared to fellow countryman Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Athletics.
Like Cespedes, Soler is known as having a cannon for an arm, and has showed signs of being able to hit for both power and average. Also like Cespedes, Soler throws and bats right handed.
Also like Cespedes, Soler first popped onto the scene in international competition. He starred for the Cuban national team in in the 2012 World Junior Baseball Championship, hitting just over the .300 mark at .304.
While being called a legitimate five-tool prospect by Baseball America, he does have a few flaws in his game. He has the potential to park plenty of baseballs on Waveland Avenue outside of Wrigley in the future, but his mighty hacks that come from his sometimes over-aggressive approach could add to the swirling winds that blow into the park off of Lake Michigan, not to mention adding to his strikeout totals.
Other than that, Soler fits the billing of a five-tool prospect. He can hit for power and average, steal bases, cover a ton of room in the outfield, and will be gunning down runners over at third base with relative ease.
Regardless, $30 million is a lot for an unproven prospect like Soler. He hasn’t had much exposure to playing outside of Cuba, and at only twenty years of age, coming over to American could provide a bit of a culture shock.
He had to defect to Haiti before being eligible to sign as a free agent with a big league club, so one can only guess how difficult it must be to leave his family and friends back home in Cuba.
Be that as it may, Epstein is admittedly rolling the dice on what he hopes is the middle of the order for the Cubs in a few years.
Epstein added Soler after he went out and drafted one of the top high school outfield prospects, Albert Almora, with the sixth pick in this year’s draft. To read more on Almora, check out the Seedling to Stars’ profile on Almora here.
It’s going to take Epstein a little longer to find success in the North Side compared to his time in Boston, but a taking a few gambles with the deep pockets of the Ricketts family should help the Cubs slowly move out of the National League Central basement in the next couple of years.
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