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Just How Good is Jorge Soler?

This past season, North Siders got their first glimpse of the remarkable confluence of talent that we analysts have been fawning over for years. First to arrive on the scene was Arismendy Alcantara, followed by the prodigious strikeout ability and Jurassic power of Javier Baez. The third player of the Cubs’ elite prospect crop that arrived last year was Jorge Soler, and he might be the guy we know the least about.

Soler defected from his native Cuba in 2011 and fled to the Dominican Republic where, after many months of negotiation, he finally signed with the Cubs in June of 2012. The terms of the deal were unique and almost unheard of, as the Cubs committed nine years and $30MM to a player who had just recently turned 20 and had yet to play in the minors or any foreign professional league. Prior to Soler signing his deal, Yoenis Cespedes was the only other Cuban position player to sign for big money, with his four-year, $36MM contract.

For Soler, the thing that made him so enticing in the first place was his raw physicality. When building a prototypical right fielder you are looking for an athlete with enough speed to cover the outfield, a rocket arm and a bat that makes plenty of hard contact in the form of doubles and home runs. At 6’4” 215 lbs, Soler fit the bill in every way with his power grading as high as 70 by some scouts with a 65 grade arm.

The Cubs now had their guy and Soler set off on his minor league career, which was erratic but for the most part spectacular. By the time Soler reached the majors he had posted a .307/.383/.551 slash line over 151 games. Those numbers were great, but to put that in perspective, by the time Baez and Alcantara made it to the show they had played 319 and 530 games, respectively.

Soler missed time nearly every season in the minors due to either injuries or suspension, or a combination of both. The laundry list of injuries and self-induced time off included a broken left tibia, chronic hamstring issues and a suspension for wielding a bat menacingly at opponents during a scuffle. Despite his inconsistent time on the field, the Cubs coaching staff did a remarkable job improving Soler’s swing path and sewing up his approach at the plate.  Soler showed a true ability to spray the ball to all fields, although most of his power still went out to left field.

Year Level BA OBP SLG BB% K%
2012 A 0.338 0.398 0.513 6.8 6.8
2013 A+ 0.281 0.343 0.467 8.9 16.1
2014 AA 0.415 0.494 0.862 15.2 19
2014 AAA 0.282 0.378 0.618 13.4 20.5
2014 MLB 0.292 0.330 0.573 6.2 24.7

As Soler reached AA and AAA last season, his numbers were significantly better in every way than at any point in the low minors. He was hitting for average, getting on base at a high level and it seemed like every time his bat made contact with the ball it was going for extra bases.  When Soler reached the majors on August 27, 2014 his tear didn’t stop, as he took Mat Latos for a ride with a 423-foot debut home run.  For the remaining 24 games he slashed .292/.330/.573, hitting five homers and knocking in 20 RBI.

Soler did most of his damage with the Cubs batting in the cleanup spot, which he did for 17 of his 24 games, which shows you just how the Cubs view his power. Steamer projections have been very generous to him, projecting a .266 BA, 23 HR, and 78 RBI over 132 games.  Over the course of his time in the minors, Soler had pretty good batted ball data which, while not totally ideal for a power hitter, would be passable as he developed. His small sample size batted ball data while with the Cubs, especially the 11.9% line drive rate, needs to be sorted out if he is to manage anything close to his .292 BA from 2014.
Batted Ball Breakdown Soler
So far what we have in Soler is a player with both talent in spades and the opportunity to produce who seems to just keep getting better. He has improved at every level of the minors, made a successful debut in the Show and showed no platoon splits in the minors or majors. While Soler remains raw defensively, his .974 fielding percentage is passable and should continue to improve with increased repetitions. With prospects you really need to see about 1,200 PA before you know what you have in the majors, and with Soler’s limited experience we might be looking at an even larger window.

In dynasty formats I believe in Soler more than any outfield prospect outside of Byron Buxton, ranking him 19th overall in my recent 2015 Fantasy Dynasty Outfield Rankings, and for solely 2015 I have him 25th among outfielders and in the top 10 for right fielders. My biggest concerns going forward for Soler are not that he won’t continue to improve, but more about his health and staying on the field. Soler, like his fellow countryman Cespedes, seems to be prone to muscle strains and needs to work on improving his durability in order to be an All-Star caliber player. Because of his propensity for muscle issues, he hasn’t run much in the minors and I do not expect him to be a threat to steal with the Cubs.

It is realistic to expect peak years from Soler in the range of .285 BA, 30 HR, and 100 RBI. It may take a few years for him to develop enough to reach this peak, but with more support in the lineup coming in the form of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Kyle Schwarber, among others, the Cubs offense will continue to become more dangerous. While Soler may not continue to hit fourth with the arrival of Bryant, I can’t see him hitting any lower than fifth. Soler is extremely valuable in dynasty leagues and it would take a very good player already in his prime for me to sell him at this point.  It turns out that Soler is pretty good after all.

Jake Devereaux also writes for BaseballProf.com You can follow him on Twitter @DevJake

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Jake Devereaux

Jake Devereaux

17 Comments

  1. […] how good is Jorge Soler? TheDynastyGuru.com takes a closer look at the Chicago […]

  2. Chad
    November 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm — Reply

    Great article – I have both Soler and Bryant in a 100% dynasty w no $ or yrs. I have a gap and 2b and solid OF and 3b on my roster. (OF Puig, Ells, polanco, Dom brown- hoping to improve, Martin, etc & at 3b Carp, Harrison, Carlos- for yr only prob, etc). Basically both cubs are needed I think but if I can get a top 5 or better 2b who do I move and for which player? Current 2b is Harrison and Alcantara. Scooped Hector Olivera not sure of his status. Please me me know your thoughts. Thanks TDG! Sorry for the ramble…. Chad

    • November 15, 2014 at 1:23 pm — Reply

      Hi Chad,

      Thanks for reading the article, glad you liked it. This is an interesting situation since Harrison will be playing third this year and Alcantara will likely be in the outfield so both guys should lose eligibility at second after this season. Soler and Bryant are really good and I think Bryant holds more value in dynasty than anyone other than Rendon who will have eligibility at Second next year so I wouldn’t trade him. Soler is someone you could stand to trade but I would make sure you were getting a top 5 option at second for him. You probably couldn’t land Altuve with him but if you can get Cano, Baez, Kipnis, or Wong I would make that happen. Instead of making any of these trades though if I was you I think I might just wait and see how my roster plays out. A combo of Harrison and Alcantara who should be eligible at second is not half bad considering the state of the position and their flexibility will allow you to put players in your lineup almost every day. Right now your team has great depth, you may be better off seeing a year of Soler, Bryant, and Alcantara before you go ahead moving any one of them. Here is a link to my 2B dynasty ranks in case you change your mind and want to make a move. http://www.baseballprof.com/2014/10/2015-fantasy-dynasty-second-base-rankings/

      • Chad
        November 16, 2014 at 2:13 am — Reply

        – thanks for the guidance ~ pretty much My thoughts sorta speak… Would have an owner w Kip and altuve & odor. Maybe a chance at one. Other has ren, kins, Wong, & Profar. That strike a match? That owner may take SPs and I got options… Baseball is the best fantasy by far by the way! So keep the cub’s’s or go hard for one of these options? Thanks much dg

  3. November 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm — Reply

    Very cool article! Makes me feel more confident that my wk 21 waiver wire claim may be up for steal of the year. Im in a 14 team dynasty league where we keep 9 players. I have 3 solid OF’s going into next season with Trout, Harper and Soler, my infield has potential in Arenado 3B, Bogaerts SS, and Encarnacion 1B, and pitiching looks solid with Kershaw, Strasburg, and Darvish. Is it worthwhile moving a big arm for a 2B? I suffered hard this season with Gyorko and Bogaerts. I feel Bogaerts should bounce next season but the lack of 2B seems to kill my team every year…

    • November 19, 2014 at 9:11 am — Reply

      I would probably hold out on trying to add a second basemen. Granted I don’t know much about what categories your league plays but having those three strikeout artists seems like a massive advantage. Second is weak and Gyorko will be better this year than he was last and can still be one of the best middle infield power sources. It sounds like you are shaping up to have a great season. I also very much believe in a bounce back/breakout for Bogaerts.

  4. rhbombay
    December 29, 2014 at 8:01 pm — Reply

    Nice work! 4 keepers. Already keeping Goldschmidt, Cano, and Beltre. Deciding between Bogaerts and Soler for the final slot. In addition, I have the 3rd and 8th picks in the first round of the draft, so it’s conceivable I could get one back. Given that, Soler or Bogaerts?

    • December 29, 2014 at 11:24 pm — Reply

      I would personally go with Bogaerts here. It’s a tough call but the production could be similar with Bogaerts having the positional edge. That swings it in his favor for me.

      • rhbombay
        December 30, 2014 at 4:15 am — Reply

        Thanks. That’s the way I was leaning, for exactly the reason you stated. I’m just hoping Bogaert’s slump last year was due to the position shift to 3B. Got burned by believing wholeheartedly in Hosmer since he got called up and am hoping to avoid a repeat.

  5. May 15, 2015 at 9:48 pm — Reply

    Dynasty league with auction values (soler super cheap right now)

    Give up
    Soler

    Get
    Betances
    Beltre
    Yam Gomes (2 catcher league and I have Molina and Rene Rivera)

    Is this a no brainier?

    • May 15, 2015 at 10:03 pm — Reply

      And btw, I read your dynasty rebuilding article. Dead last early on last season. Managed to get all these guys throughout the season:

      Appel
      Harvey
      Yelich
      Soler
      Baez
      Pederson
      Wong
      Paxton
      A. Bradley
      Piscotty
      Mondesi Jr.
      Nimmo

      Currently in 3rd this year and trending up.

      THANK YOU!

    • May 19, 2015 at 11:33 pm — Reply

      Yes I would do this in a heartbeat.

  6. Alex
    June 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm — Reply

    Jake,
    Thanks for the write up. In a 6×6 (with BBs and holds), 12-team, keep forever league (with no attached dollar amount), would you deal Encarnacion for Soler? Soler doesn’t run and his BB rate has dropped significantly from the minors to the pros, plus you mentioned the niggling injuries he’s had. That being said, the power/average/counting stats upside is nice and he’s only 23, whereas Encarnacion’s best days are presumably

    • Alex
      June 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm — Reply

      …preusumably over. Thanks the response in advance. Greatly appreciated!

      • June 16, 2015 at 7:10 pm — Reply

        Hey Alex,

        If your need is in the outfield I have no issue with this deal. You lose some in the short term but Encarnacion will be leaving baseball as Soler enters his prime. I say do it.

        -Jake

  7. Andre
    August 7, 2015 at 1:41 am — Reply

    Jake,

    Great write up. I just came across this article and I wanted to get your opinion. I’ve been offered a trade in my keeper league. 10 teams….We keep 5 guys but there’s no limit to how long you keep the players. The offensive categories are Hits, HR, RBI, Average, Runs, Walks, and Steals. I was offered Soler for Springer. Your thoughts? Which would you rather have long term? Thanks!

    • August 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm — Reply

      I would much rather have Springer due to his higher potential for both steals and home runs. The average may not be as good but they will be comparable. Springer is unreal.

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