9/15 Soler power
Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler showed just what he could do in a big league ballpark on Saturday. Soler, 20, who signed a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs this summer, put on quite a show during batting practice, hitting five home runs, including two over the left field bleachers and onto Waveland Avenue. This was the first time Soler has ever been in a Major League ballpark, and he had all of the Cubs baseball brass watching every swing, including president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and manager Dale Sveum around the cage.
“I felt good,” Soler said through interpreter Luis Eljaua, special assistant to the general manager. “I was a little intimidated — I’ve never been in a big league ballpark before. After awhile, I felt like I fit right in.”
He looked comfortable as he hit line drives off Cubs infield coach Pat Listach. Soler played 20 games in the Rookie League before he was assigned to Class A Peoria, where he batted .338 in 20 games with three home runs and five doubles.
After the season ended, Soler took some time off in Miami, where he lives with his father, but he will report to Mesa on Sunday to begin instructional league. Soler will room with Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick Albert Almora again. The two met in Canada at a world championship tournament, and were roommates earlier this year in Mesa during Rookie League play. Almora, who was at Wrigley Field on Friday and showed up again Saturday, said he’ll help Soler learn English. How long before Soler is patrolling right field at Wrigley full time?
“I don’t know,” he said. “As long as I learn to make adjustments, the time will come when I’m here.”
— Carrie Muskat