Some promotion are well-earned.
The Cubs announced last night that they’ve promoted a pair of outfield prospects, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, the former to Triple-A Iowa, the latter to Double-A Tennessee.
Soler, 22, had been in the midst of one of the best months of minor league baseball we’ve seen this year. Since returning from the disabled list on July 6th, the Cuban outfielder has hit .463 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 15 games. He walked nine times en route to a .538 on base percentage. He was slugging 1.000.
That almost overshadow’s Almora’s recent hot streak, which has been impressive in its own regard. Over his last twenty games, the 20 year old has hit .391/.413/.644 with four home runs, two triples and two stolen bases.
Both players were ranked among the top prospects in baseball prior to the season, with Almora listed it at #36 on Baseball America’s top 100 list, and Soler sliding in right behind at #41. Each, though, has seen their stock drop this year off for individual reasons.
For Soler, it was health, again. After missing all but 55 games last season with a left-shin fracture, Soler injured his hamstring after his first at bat of 2014. He played in just seven games between April and May, before the Cubs shut him down for two months.
Soler, who signed a 30 million dollar contract after defecting from Cuba in 2012, still has tremendous potential thanks to lightning wrists that can produce plus-plus power. He showed that much over his last three weeks in Double-A. Until he can prove that he can stay healthy, though, those injuries will continue to loom as a caveat to his ability.
For Almora, it was simple performance. After hitting .321 and .329 in his first and second professonial seasons, respectively, the 6th overall pick from 2012 posted a .283 on base percentage and a .624 OPS through the first three months of the year. His recent tear has upped his season slash line (.283/.306/.406), but his lack of plate discipline (3.1 BB%) is still a major concern.
Almora is liable to stay in Double-A for at least a year, if not more, but this could be a prelude to a more monumental promotion for Soler, a big league one.
A young player’s development is contingent on the number of at bats he gets and with Soler having missed so much time due to injury, the Cubs will try to find as many opportunities as possible for Soler to swing a bat. The Iowa Cubs season ends on September 1st, at which point Chicago will become the only available outlet for Soler to grab plate appearances.