Jorge Soler provided a glimpse last October of just how good he could be. And he reported to camp this spring ready to compete for a starting job in the now crowded Cubs’ outfield.
Jorge Soler reached base in nine straight at bats in the post-season and batted .474/600/1.105 in seven games with a 1.705 OPS. Soler went 9-for-19 with three doubles, three home runs and six walks with five strikeouts. Soler’s performance in the playoffs was overshadowed by Kyle Schwarber and his massive home runs.
In 101 regular season games last year, Soler batted .262/.324/.399 with 18 doubles, a triple and 10 home runs for a .723 OPS. Soler had two stints on the DL and struggled defensively in the outfield. Due to his poor showing in the NLCS, many forget about his series changing play in the NLDS when he threw out Tony Cruz at the plate to end the inning and kept the Cardinals from taking the lead.
Many feel the sky’s the limit for Soler, who turned 24 on Thursday.
Jorge Soler admitted Friday that he lost focus last season both at the plate and in the field … and he “got a little lazy defensively.” Soler said he had a different mindset in the playoffs.
“During the playoffs I focused on my at bats, on my defense. That helped my game,” Soler said Friday.
Jorge Soler will primarily be used in left field. Dexter Fowler will play center field on most days with Jason Heyward in right field. Soler and Kyle Schwarber will see time in left field.
Soler hasn’t played left field before but said he will “work hard every day.”
Jorge Soler looked good in left field during defensive drills on Friday. Soler has the arm to keep runners on second from scoring on a single to left. He said Friday he is not worried about his playing time.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs have not determined what Soler’s role will be on the team. Soler will have to earn his playing time. Soler struggled with consistency last season. This year, he has to be prepared to play every day.
Joe Maddon thinks Soler put too much pressure on himself during the regular season. Maddon and the Cubs feel Soler treated the playoffs “like a new season” according to Comcast SportsNet.
“My biggest thing with him is he understands how to get ready to play every day,” Maddon said. “I’m not looking for great plays. I’m not looking for 20 homers or hit .310. It’s just a matter of getting a young player that understands the major leagues on a daily basis. That his prep work is good, that he’s getting ready to play when asked to play.”
“There’s a lot in there,” Maddon said. “A young guy last year who had high expectations, obviously. Didn’t get off to the start he’s looking for. And I don’t think he really process the moment as well as he possibly could. I’m not blaming him. He’s a young guy getting caught up in the moment. But it’s our responsibility to give him more tools to work with, whether it’s mental or physical.”
“We need to get that playoff performance out of him on a more consistent basis,” Maddon said. “That’s all prep work, I think. It’s just a matter of teaching him how to get ready on a daily basis. And we will. When we do that, you’re gonna see more of that kind of performance on a consistent basis.”
If Jorge Soler can play to the level Maddon is expecting, the Cubs could end up with the best outfield, offensively and defensively, in the game.