Last year was the final time that the Cubs could really flex their financial advantage on the IFA market. After missing on Yoenis Cespedes (who is incredible), the Cubs hit on two of the big-ticket Latin American players. The first was Gerardo Concepcion, who is pretty much a non-prospect at this point. The other is Jorge Soler, who looks like he could be a very good player. Soler signed a 9-year, 30 million dollar deal that will pay him through 2020 (though he can opt out and go to arbitration when that starts). The Cubs never pay him more than 4 million in a single year, and his last year years will be age 26, 27, and 28. That's what a nice IFA contract looks like.
Soler doesn't have a great batting stance, from what I've seen. He's sort of straight up, and his swing seems really hard on his lower back. That being said, he's got prototypical power from RF. He could hit 25-30 HR as long as his hit tool progresses like it should. He didn't strike out that much and walked well enough for the lower levels. His bat speed (it's great) should allow him to make decent contact, and hopefully he won't strike out a ton. Soler has pretty good speed so he should be able to maintain a higher-than-average BABIP and provide some value on the basepaths. He likes to steal bases (12/1 last year in 149 PA and 35 chances), so look for that to be a part of his game in the future as well.
|2012||20||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A-Rk||CHC||34||149||134||28||40||7||0||5||25||12||1||12||19||.299||.369||.463||.832||62||3||3||0||0||2|
Some scouts say that Soler's arm is his best tool. He has a consensus cannon from RF, and the speed to play the position very well. Soler should be a plus defender in the big leagues; however, I wonder why he isn't tried out at CF (probably because he doesn't have plus speed). Scouts also say he has poor routes; I expect that to be fixed by the minor league coaching.
Soler is very, very raw. He didn't have much competition in Cuba, and the level of competition he faced is maybe comparable to Low-A. He's going to work through the minors as slowly as a normal high-school prospect. He'll need to learn how to hit good pitches, and he'll probably have to clean up his stance a little bit. On the plus side, he's got plenty of tools in the toolbox. He's got legit plus power and a plus arm. He's got more than enough speed to be a great RF and the bat speed to be competitive in the majors. There is significant risk to Jorge Soler, but the upside is huge.