Levine: Soler Comes Up Big In Wrigley Debut
By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — The meteoric rise to big league stardom has been a nice story for Jorge Soler and the Chicago Cubs.
The 22-year-old Soler has been a dominant force in the five games he has played in the outfield since getting a call up from Triple-A Iowa. He was promoted during the team’s recently completed road trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis.
The numbers alone had been eye-opening on the road trip (.526 with three home runs and seven RBIs), but watching the way the ball jumps off of Soler’s bat is much more telling than any fantasy league stats can enlighten you.
“He has Vlad Guerrero-type power,” a pro scout who has watched Soler play in 10 games this season said. “He has a better idea of the strike zone than some of the young talent like (Javy) Baez. The Cubs are blessed with a number of real power threats coming through their system.”
The Cubs’ plan is to rest Soler every four days. He has been dealing with season-long hamstring problems, which in turn had limited his playing time early in the season in the minor leagues.
“He has been on a graduated program, basically,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “I don’t think he has played more than four or five games in a row (all season). That is the table we have been using. We will continue to use it. Physically, he is fine, so it is just a matter of us continuing to graduate him in terms of his playing time.”
Through a team translater, Soler said he 100 percent healthy but has a few lulls.
Soler also added he learned some valuable lessons in Triple-A. He talked about conversations with Manny Ramirez while they were teammates in Iowa.
“One of the things I learned from Manny was that there will be times when I will struggle,” Soler said. “He said a good player comes out of slumps, quicker than one who is not mentally ready. He had the same conversation with (Javier Baez ) and with me.”
Soler didn’t disappoint the home crowd Monday in his Wrigley Field debut. He doubled down the right-field line in his first at-bat, and he promptly scored the first run of the game on Welington Castillo ‘s broken bat base hit. Soler tied a major record (held by Enos Slaughter and Will Middlebrooks) with five extra base hits or more in the first five games of a career .
After hitting into a double play in his second at-bat, Soler doubled into the right-center field gap in the sixth. Soler ended his day with a ninth inning groundout.
Soler was hit by a line drive foul off of the right thigh by Castillo in the sixth. He received treatment on the bruise after the game.
I asked Soler if the game is as easy as he has made it look.
“It is not as easy as it looks,” he said after his first Wrigley experience. “I am just trying to be conscientious on each at-bat and taking it pitch by pitch.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.