Jorge Soler, the Boise Hawks, Pierce Johnson Signs … and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Cubs did not play a game on Monday but the front office did not take the day off. A week after the First-Year Player Draft began Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made their biggest signing since taking over the team back in October. The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a nine-year, $30 million contract with 20-year old outfielder Jorge Soler. The Cubs have not commented on the signing, which is expected to be made official in the next few days.

The Cubs also signed their second pick in last week’s draft, right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson. Johnson inked his deal and will report to Boise soon to begin his professional career. Johnson announced the signing on his Twitter account.

The first Boise Hawks roster also surfaced Monday and the rumor mill is starting to heat up with the non-waiver trade deadline six weeks away. Plus, the first baseman for the I-Cubs hit not one but two more home runs Monday night, then settled for a double …

Jorge Soler
The Cubs’ new regime landed their man Monday when they agreed to terms on a nine-year, $30 million deal with Jorge Soler. Soler’s contract is reportedly a major league deal and when the signing is made official he will be added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

The deal Jorge Soler agreed to include financial opt outs once Soler becomes arbitration eligible. Soler will remain under the Cubs’ control until after the 2020 season but his deal has clauses that allow him to renegotiate his contract in each of his three arbitration years (3-6). So if Soler does not make his debut until 2015 for example, he can renegotiate his contract for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 season … the same as any 3-6 year arbitration eligible player.

Baseball America’s Jim Callis joined David Kaplan, Andrea Darlas and Brian Noonan during the first hour of Monday’s WGN Sports Night to discuss the Soler signing.

Jim Callis likes the signing for the Cubs. He said that the top two prospects in the Cubs’ system are probably Jorge Soler and Javier Baez at this point and he flip-flopped between the two on which one would be the top prospect in the system. Callis believes Baez will end up at third base and Soler profiles as a right fielder with power. Soler possesses great bat speed with plus power and is a solid runner. He said the only downside in the signing is most Cuban defectors do not live up to the hype. The scouts like Soler’s tools but are not sure if he can hit for average in the big leagues. Callis said Soler is very similar to Yoenis Cespedes.

On the conservative end, Callis thinks Soler could be with the Cubs at the end of the 2014 season … which would make him only 22 years old when he makes his big league debut. Callis sees a scenario in which Soler is in the Cubs’ Opening Day lineup in 2015.

David Kaplan asked about a possible opening day lineup for 2015 and Callis agreed with Kaplan that Anthony Rizzo (1B), Junior Lake (2B), Starlin Castro (SS), Javier Baez (3B), Brett Jackson (LF), Albert Almora (CF) and Jorge Soler (RF) could be seven of the eight position players in the opening day lineup in two and a half years.

Callis likes the offensive potential that is now in the Cubs’ system but the organization’s pitching is not as impressive. Callis likes the first three pitchers the Cubs selected in this year’s draft (Pierce Johnson, Paul Blackburn and Duane Underwood). He is not sure if Trey McNutt is a starter and mentioned he could be a better reliever in the long term and Dillon Maples has not pitched professionally yet. At some point, the Cubs are going to have to find pitching to go along with the offensive talent.

During the interview, Jim Callis said he thinks Albert Almora will sign with the Cubs.

Pierce Johnson and the Cubs 2012 Draft
The Cubs are beginning to sign the players they selected in last week’s first-year player’s draft. While most are focused on if the Cubs will be able to ink Albert Almora, the team’s number one pick, the Cubs were able to get their second pick (43rd overall) under contract.

The Cubs selected RHP Pierce Johnson with their first pick in the supplemental round. Johnson signed his deal with the Cubs on Monday and will soon report to Boise. Terms of Johnson’s signing bonus were not released. If the Cubs did not exceed the slot, Johnson’s signing bonus should have been $1.196 million.

The Cubs have also agreed to terms with their fifth round pick (LHP) Anthony Prieto, (RHP) Corbin Hoffner the 14th round selection, (LHP) Nathan Dorris the 17th round pick and (CF) Izaac Garsez. The Cubs selected Garsez in the 30th round and he said he should know by Thursday or Friday where he will begin the season.

Boise Hawks
The first Boise Hawks roster for the season was made public Monday night. More changes are expected as Pierce Johnson will report to Boise soon and the Opening Day roster could have a couple of additions and subtractions. The Hawks open their season Friday night against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

The Hawks are led by Mark Johnson, David Rosario is Boise’s pitching coach and Bill Buckner will spend the short-season as the Hawks’ hitting coach.

Pitchers

  • Jose Arias (RHP)
  • Willengton Cruz (RHP)
  • Ian Dickson (RHP)
  • Rafael Diplin (RHP)
  • Pete Levitt (RHP)
  • Amaury Paulino (RHP)
  • Roderik Pichardo (RHP)
  • James Pugliese (RHP)
  • Tayler Scott (RHP)
  • Bryce Shafer (RHP)
  • Matt Spencer (LHP)

Catchers

  • Wilson Contreras

Infielders

  • Gioskar Amaya
  • Jeimer Candelario
  • Marco Hernandez
  • Brian Inoa
  • Rock Shoulders

Outfielders

  • Xavier Batista
  • Shawon Dunston, Jr.
  • Eduardo Gonzalez
  • Dong-Yub Kim

Other Minor League News
Daytona’s Austin Kirk was named starter for the North Team in the Florida State League All-Star game.

Anthony Rizzo hit two more home runs on Monday night. For those scoring at home, that is back-to-back multi-homer games. Rizzo has 22 longballs on the season and leads all of the minor leagues in total bases. Rizzo is hitting .370 with a .430 OBP and a 1.183 OPS in 219 at bats … in June, .447/.500 with a 1.447 OPS.


Video of Anthony Rizzo’s Second Home Run from June 11

Rumor Mill
Many feel the Cubs will be one of the busiest teams leading up to July’s non-waiver trade deadline. According to a report from Jon Heyman, some rival general managers anticipate the Cubs may be willing to consider deals for almost all of the players on their current roster with the exception of Starlin Castro.

Heyman mentioned Monday morning on the Score that even Jeff Samardzija could be available in the right deal, even though his recent outings may have hurt his value. Heyman pointed out that some teams feel Samardzija still might be a better fit in the back of a bullpen than as a starter.

Matt Garza’s name has been bantered around with teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays believed to be the most interested. Ryan Dempster could also be dealt and the Tribune thinks he could be the first traded. Dempster has been connected to the Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Dodgers. Kevin Goldstein has repeatedly stated that he feels the Cubs could receive a top 10 talent in return for Dempster.

The other names mentioned by Jon Heyman as possible trade chips include Paul Maholm, Alfonso Soriano, Reed Johnson and even Carlos Marmol.

Heyman discussed Soriano on the Score and said he has not heard of any teams currently interested in trading for him.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

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  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Dong-Yub Kim. As one reader put it, we may yet see a “Dong-O-Meter” in Wrigley.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I don’t expect as much trade activity for the Cubs as other GM’s seem to think. I think only Dempster will be traded. 

    I can’t see how Marmol has any trade value at all. 16 IP with 20 BB and only 17 k for $10 million. His WHIP is 2.06 and his ERA is 6.75.  And he’s been hurt. It’s a bargain! Sure, the Cubs could pay 100% of his $10 million dollar salary, but what would he return us?
     
    Maholm? Without the stellar infield, his ERA has climbed from last year’s 3.66 to 5.10….He’s relatively cheap, but I don’t see him being traded. Who would start in his place? Chris Volstad? Probably. He won’t net much, imo, and then Volstad would continue his pursuit of the record for most starts in a row without a win…..

    Johnson is a good sub, and he might bring a lower level prospect. Maybe.

    Soriano? He needs knee surgery, and then there’s that contract. If he keeps hitting, yes, some AL team might take him. Might.

    • SuzyS

       The haul would come from Garza…AL East tested and trime on his contract.  But then…whom do WE pitch in the rotation
      next year?

      • Ripsnorter1

        I don’t think he goes anywhere…but we shall see, won’t we?

        As for AL East tested, he had a lousy record against most of the East. 7-1 vs the O’s, but the Yanks racked his hide, as did Boston and others.

        But then, maybe you meant he flunked the test?

        LOL

  • Tony_Hall

    In the off-season, when talking about the 3 Cuban players, most people said that they would prefer Soler, Concepcion, and then Cespedes and that if the Cubs could sign any 2 of 3, they would prefer Soler and Concepcion.

    Mission accomplished!

    No one knows if either of these players will be productive major league players, as they are both 20 years old, but with this the last chance to sign international free agents, without limits, it is well worth the risk that comes with these deals.  We could have had ARAM and Pena back and spent more money, and still not have won anything this year or future years due to those signings.

    • cubtex

      who’s most people? Concepcion is not even worth mentioning anymore. He is a stiff!

      • cubs1967

        really; most people. come on tony, you gotta have more than “most people”.  i think the team theo lovers like yourself did; the knowledgeable reality objective cubs fans said who?……..and wanted cespedes and soler.

        • RynoTiger

          hey cubs1967..I’m a Team Theo lover…he’s just so darn cute. 

          and the way he ticks you off so much is fun to watch. 

      • RynoTiger

        at the age of 20 and after 10 games a stiff already?  guess I’m more inclined to say he has alot of work to do for a young pitcher. 

        Sure you can say yall should take him out back and beat the snot out of him, but I say give him maybe a few years at least to develop….you know, an actual chance to work on things…to me, giving a kid only 10 games to prove himself is a foolish and impatient rush to judgement. 

        • cubtex

          He doens’t have good stuff. He doesn’t throw hard. He is not going to be a major league pitcher.  Read this comparison. It is a very good read.

          18 year old Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion has moved to Mexico and will become a free agent. So I found Cuban pitchers who pitched both professionally in Cuba and the MLB. I could find just 3 with reliable statistics. Aroldis ChapmanCuba: 10.04 K/9IP, 3.75 ERAMLB: 12.8 K/9IP ,3.27 ERAYuneisky MayaCuba: 7.6 K/9IP, 2.45 ERAMLB: 4.14 K/9IP, 5.52 ERAJose ContrerasCuba: 14.97 K/9IP, 4 ERAMLB: 6.8 K/9IP, 4.54 ERAContreras and Maya saw significant decline in the Majors, while Chapman saw improvement. The biggest difference between Chapman and Contreras/Maya is that Chapman throws an average 99 MPH fastball, hitting 100 frequently, and neither Contreras or Maya hit 95. As I had shown in a previous article, pitchers that threw 95 MPH were much more likely to have success than pitchers that didn’t. According to reports I have seen, Concepcion can barely hit 90 MPH, which is about what Maya throws. So here we will look at Concepcion’s statistics through Contreras and Maya’s difference in the two countries.Gerardo ConcepcionCuba: 4.7 K/9IP, 3.36 ERAMLB Projection: (negative strikeouts somehow), 5.165 ERAJust for fun, a projection including Chapman: 1.74 K/9IP, 4.4 ERAAs you can see, the strikeout projections are particularly unhelpful, but a 4.7 K/9IP at any level is terrible. His ERA is also very pedestrian and unimpressive. He is only 18, and could develop more (I would be surprised if he didn’t), but throwing 90ish with no apparent strikeout abilities isn’t exactly something teams should be clamoring over.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I love Theo, and I’m just clamoring over Conception, too!!!

            LOL
            Okay, so his fastball won’t break a pane of glass. Oh wait, it will: when it flies over the left field bleachers into the house across the street. THEN it breaks the window panes!  

            LOL

            Think of this rotation next year in Wrigley:
            Hayden Simpson
            Concepcion
            Casey Coleman
            ChiChi Lopez
            Chris Volstad as your 5th starter.

            We’ll set records!

          • Tom U

            I will have to say that when I saw him work out, he didn’t look overpowering. He will have to work on control, hitting his spots, and out-thinking the hitter.

          • cubtex

            You think? Looking at his low strike out rate in Cuba and how that average rate decreases in pro ball……..that doesn’t bode well for anybody. I do not like pitchers who cannot miss bats. He will get lit up many more times I am afraid.

  • Cheryl

    I expect LaHair to be traded eiter by himsef or in combination – possible detinations inclde the Dodgers or Blue Jays. Garza will also be traded.

    • John_CC

      Is Loney still the Dodgers 1Bman?  If so, your scenario makes a lot of sense.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JKQGSH67PHSCQL7OCOLRJHIGY TomO

    Vogelbach’s not reporting to Boise?  I’ve been waiting to read about his light tower power.  I guess I’ll have to wait a little longer.

    On a side note: Oneri Fleita was in Peoria last night to watch the game.  Gerardo Concepcion was on the mound and was hit very hard… again.  Oddly enough, Javier Baez didn’t see the field last night. I’ve been wondering if Concepcion would go to Boise once the short season schedule began and how much longer they could keep Baez down in Peoria.  Perhaps Fleita was there to evaluate and decide?

  • Chadaudio

    Is Trevor Gretzky still hurt?…  Surprised to see he isn’t put on the Boise roster.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      It appears he will begin the season in rookie ball.

      • Chadaudio

        Ah.  Thanks Neil.  I guess that means he is really behind then huh.

        • Tom U

          From what I’ve read, Gretzky outhit both Volgelbach and Shoulders this spring. However, it appears the organization wants him to work on being an outfielder.

  • RMercer69

    Nice to see in the video that Rizzo hit that HR off a lefty. Does anyone know his splits against lefties this year?

    • Ryan
      • Brp921

        Looking at his stats, he seems to be very consistent and hits lefties as well as righthanders.. He looks really solid in all areas The one concern to me would be the difference in hitting behind in the count as opposed to being ahead in the count. The pitching, being much better in the big leagues, could make him struggle. Of course that is a concern for all rookies. Hopefully he can take his game to the next level.

      • John_CC

         Impressive. His ratios are almost the same vs. LHP and RHP.  His HR rate is actually a touch better against LHP, the K rate is low too.  I asked Tom U yesterday what part of his game needs work and he said that his defense has been lacking.  I believe the scouting report rates his defense as Plus, so no need to worry there.

        Just a matter of time now…

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I linked to his stats page. Shows all of splits

  • John_CC

    Great update, thanks Neil.  

  • Cubtastrophy

    Any idea where and when we will be seeing Soler in action?

    • Aaron

      Not for 3 yrs if you believe Team Theo when they say AAA is a “finishing off” place and they don’t believe in skipping levels

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    The Cubs have fired Rudy Jaramillo

    • Chadaudio

      Wow!  Even with the terrible offense, I have to say that I’m actually a bit surprised.

      Jeff Baker, Soto, Stewart… these guys have problems well outside of what Rudy can fix.  LaHair and Campana just seem to be slumping – don’t see that this is Rudy’s fault either.

      Guess it’s all about “cleaning house”.

    • John_CC

       Wow!! That is news!  I wonder how Ripsnort will peg this  move by Team Theo?

      • cubtex

        Sure….. He is the problem why guys like Ian Stewart can’t hit. That is funny! DeJesus is having a better year, Castro is still over .300, Soriano is having a good year, Bryan LaHair is doing better than anyone expected. I bet it has to do with Rudy not seeing eye to eye with Sveum(hard to believe hahaha)

        • John_CC

           Are you responding to me? I don’t understand. I did not make any statements about Jaramillo, I have never really cared one way or the other about him.

  • cubtex

    Philosophical difference between Jaramillo and the new Cubs regime :) Jaramillo believes the hitters should hit and the new Cubs regime believe hitters should take 2 strikes and then look to swing. I guess the Rangers had such a poor offense all those years under Jaramillo.

    • SomeGuy27

      I replied on the other post and I think most hitting coaches are worthless to begin with.  But the question I have is exactly how much have the Rangers suffered since Jaramillo left?

    • John_CC

       Are we talking about the Rangers or the Cubs?  Because the Cubs offense sucked last year too, remember? And the year before.  So it took 2 1/2 years for him to get Soriano hitting consistently?  Right. But it still has nothing to do with Sveum, how was also a hitting coach for a very productive team in the Brewers.

  • Christian2334

    You start to begin to see how theo’s picture is looking. We accomplished the signing Jorge Soler, and the signing oh Conception, and drafting Almora. I believe Soler will be the talent everyone expects hims to be and more. It’s one thing to constantly hear about a guy likes him and hit bat and power, albeit raw, but when you start hearing about his speed and defense and cannon of a arm from the OF you begin to get a little more excited. I think it’s reasonable to believe if Soler “makes it” he can be just like him fellow countrymen Cespedes, and possibly along the lines of Jason Heyward. But for some reason I get this feeling he’ll be even better, call it the cubbie koolaide or what have you but I see a tremendous player. I feel everyone e needs to come down off the ledge about Conception. He’s young, let him grow and learn. Let him play in the AZFL or come to spring training next season and learn from Bosio or so e of more experienced pitchers. Give him time!! His 1st 10 starts have been atrocious I know! But there have been plenty of young minor league players that have had a rough 1st season in the minors or even a few and the breakout! The book is still out on him, just be a patient. Almora I believe will sign, no HS player gets taken in the top 10 and walks to go to college. They know the are risking injury and a lot of money is being left on the table. Once Almora does sigh I believe there is even more now to become excited about within our system. Yes we hav had plenty of the cant miss prospects, but I feel we are in a good spot right now. Last seasons draft I feel was a great one and Baez will be a stud along some of the guys selected I believe could have strong careers. Some of our international signings like Jeimer Calendario I believe old develop the talent to ha Eva great career as well. And now on to trades! I feel dempster loves the Cubs and the city of Chicago so much that hes more than willing to help this club! I can definitely see Dempst waiving his 10/5 rights and no trade clause to better the club bc he knows that the team will get a good haul back on him and right now it appears to be the dodgers from multiple reports. And I can also see Dempst being traded and then coming back next season. Garza I still feel is a big piece of this team and could be signed to an extension, but with Brandon Morrow’s injury and other clubs in need of pitching that are in contention, it’s more of a strong possibility we’ll see Garza in a different uni after the all-star break. And with sorianos recent offensive streak, teams are seeing that he’s still go it and he wants to win. He more the cubs eat of his salary the more I feel we will net in return. Geo, marmol, reed, and baker I feel won’t get us anything but a PTBNL. The only other 2 ball p,ayers I can see actually neting us. Return would be Dejesus and camp…………thoughts?

    • Tom U

      Christian, it remains to be seen, but I expect both Concepcion and Soler to play winter ball, probably in the Dominican Republic.

  • Marvin Ferguson

    What about Tony Campana? Is he just a short stay with the Cubs until the front office wants to put somebody else in CF?