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Close-up view and breakdown of Jorge Soler's HR

This video is from Tim Sheridan of Boys of Spring. You really get an idea of his explosive hand speed here. See gallery (below video) for a step by step analysis...

Below is a 5 page photo gallery and a breakdown of his swing from load to follow through...

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  • Pretty.

    I've been following Cubs prospects for about 25 years now. When I first started, I had no context in which to understand the probability of a prospects success at the major league level. I would get caught up in dreaming what the Cubs line-up would look like 2 years in the future.

    I know better now, but I find it really hard not to think that Almora, Soler, Jackson and Baez will all be starting for the Cubs by 2016 maybe sooner.

    I know it's far from a sure thing, but I feel like there's a good chance (60%) that the 2016 Cubs starting 8 will be:

    Castillo - C
    Rizzo - 1B
    Barney - 2B
    Castro - SS
    Baez - 3B
    Jackson - LF
    Almora - CF
    Soler - RF

    Talk me down, somebody.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Ha. It's not so unrealistic. 4 of those guys are already starters. One is on the brink of an OF job and in AAA, and the other 3 are the Cubs with the highest probability of making it based on their prospect status. I think the longest odds are that all of the big 3 - Baez, Soler, and Almora-- make it, but not too bad since you put the odds at 60% overall.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Quedub,

    The question is, and it sounds like you might have an opinion on this, does the farm look better than ever? Or not?

    Will Almora, Soler, Jackson and Baez all end up playing for the Chicago Cubs? Maybe. I imagine the probabilities say otherwise.

    But it does not matter which ones make it.

    The important point is that there seems to be a lot more talent on the farm after just a year of the new regime. If they continue to bring in talent at this rate only good things can happen.

    Another point is that I keep hearing of getting players to adjust their swing and getting a positive result. It seems to me that in the past I have often heard of the Cubs trying to tweak this or that player's swing only to ruin them. This strikes me as an important change (and is in keeping with the sudden ability to, for instance, coach Soriano's defense into something that at least looks like defense.)

    More talent, better coaching. It is like a dream.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    The only flaw (if that is the right word) that I see in your logic is that I suspect that one or more of these guys will be involved in a trade at some point prior to 2016 to bring in an 'elite' pitching arm.

    Of those you list (and their positions) I suspect that the one most likely to move is one of the two CFs,... either Jackson or Almora. Not that I want to see either of them go, however Jackson (especially) probably isn't an ideal offensive LF. I could see the Cubs trading Jackson or Almora (not this season, but by time Almora is ready) for pitching to a team in need of a true CF, and then LF either being filled by a FA power bat, or from within with a young power bat.

    It would definately NOT shock me to see 6-7 of those in your list as starters by 2015-2016.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    Noooooo! I sure hope they don't trade BJax, Soler, Baez or Almora -- unless, of course, the FO determines any of them are simply not the guy they want. Assuming the remain viewed as impact players, we absolutely should not trade them for anchor pitching -- that's where the Cubs deep pockets come into play. The poor, small market teams have to trade their prospects to land a cost controlled stud. We, on the other hand, should not have to worry about cost control much longer. Sign a free agent stud or two and keep our young studs!

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    My guess is, unless he can play a position on defense, Vogelboom will be the most likely to be traded. What a shame, I get a feeling this kid may end up the best hitter of the bunch.

  • When people talk about an explosive bat, Soler should be the picture in the definition of the word

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Cant help but use that word. From the time he loads up to the point where he makes contact that hand speed/strength is just incredible.

  • Yeah, but 2016 is so far away. I'm hoping Jackson gets here by August, and that Soler rockets through the system and gets to show by June/July 2014. Baez by 2015, Alamora by mid-2015.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I agree. That's why I said 2016 maybe sooner. But doesn't it seem just way too optimistic to be thinking about all 4 of those prospects, albeit top prospects, making good? Common sense, history and the numbers tell me otherwise, but something in my gut tells me it's okay to dream this time. I really need someone to burst my bubble...

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Hey Q. Great lineup but I'll try to burst your bubble a little. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Baez along with maybe Vogelbach and a breakout pitching prospect will be packaged to get an ace in David Price to anchor the rotation. I still think Christian Villanueva can hold down the hot corner, or maybe if we're lucky Junior Lake can have a breakout year and nail it down. If wer're lucky, maybe Scott Rolen will roll out of the nursing home to man the hot corner.

    Either way, Tampa has proven time and time again that pitching wins. Can you image a rotation of headed by Price, Samardzija, Jackson, and Vizcaino? Throw in a free agent signing and/or a hard charging minor league prospect for the fifth spot in the rotation and I think that's a rotation to content for a title.

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    Exactly Ryan - the biggest reason 'we' might not see these guys together ever in the bigs is I think some subset of them will be traded off for a Price-like pitcher at some point.

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    Only if its someone like Price or Verlander.

  • In reply to mutant beast:

    I'd take that reason. I'd trade Baez, Vogelbach and a good pitching prospect plus change, and the Cubs have a lot of change (meaning useful, solid prospects that might hit but aren't elite) for David Price.

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    In reply to Quedub:

    Agreed. I know as Cubs fans we almost see these guys as our children growing up and maturing in the system and we want all of them to succeed in a Cubs uniform but the sake of the Cubs must be paramount.

    If we have an overabundance of talent at one position, we have to trade from a position of strength. If we have 4 great shortstops, yes we could move them to other positions and they would be good. But what would another team pay for a really good, young SS? They maybe give up what WE need and maybe more. The reality of the situation is Vogelbach will not be the Cubs first baseman, barring an injury to Rizzo. Riz will not be traded to make room for Vogelbach. That's what small market teams do. Large market teams keep their leaders together. (ie: Yankees) The Cubs will pay Riz because they can afford it. We could move Baez to 2B, 3B, or the outfield but if he can stick at SS, trade him to a team that will overpay and give us what we need which is a starting pitcher like Price.

    I try to think of it as a third of our top prospects will fizzle out, a third will make the Cubs, and a third will be traded for pieces we need.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    I think 2014 midseason is probably the best we can hope for. He'll have to get to AA this season to have a shot -- and that's not unrealistic if he hits like he's capable at Daytona.

  • That was a great look at Soler. What's not to like? I'd like to see similar videos of Baez and Jackson.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Thanks. Tim had such a great video to use and I thought I'd try out this format -- it actually turned out better than I thought it would. If I get another good video like this, I'll definitely do the other two -- and Almora as well.

  • In reply to cubs1969:

    Hate to make comparisons, but doesnt Soler remind just of Albert Belle just a bit, the way he uses those hands to time the ball?

  • It's fun to click through the 5 stills of his swing. It really helps amateurs like me notice a lot of things that would otherwise be missed. Like his head stays so still. His eyeline never changes.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    It is fun, isn't it? I found myself clicking through it a few times. The head does indeed stay down and very still. Great observation.

  • Does anyone else (other than me) believe that BJax will not be a long term piece. I mean, with some of the guys that we have at the lower levels that will be making their way up, I get a feeling Mr. Free Swinging Jackson will be one of the guys not on this team. Just wondering. Maybe I'm looking (thinking) too far ahead.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    You just never know. With his work ethic he might improve a lot going forward or he may stall. Let this coaching staff have him a while and decide what to do with him when we have to.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I agree. I look at the roster as presently constituted and all I see are moving pieces. However, Soler gives me pause to that notion. Bat does look amazing and it's early. Sveum needs to make sure he sets the roster up to maximize his run production (i.e. leading off Castro). But that is a different soap box for a different time..

  • In reply to lokeey:

    Let's not forget that Jackson has already succeeded at a higher level than any of these other guys have, so his odds of becoming an MLB'er are less risky right now. Hard to count him out, other guys still need to conquer A ball.

    I think even with his flaws, he's still the Cubs 3rd best OF prospect. Only thing that changes that for me is if Baez has to end up in the OF.

  • In reply to lokeey:

    I think your categorization of him as a free swinger is off-base. He is definitely not that and it shows by his walk rate and the fact he sees a ton of pitches in almost every at bat.

    His problem is that when he swings, he doesn't make contact and the believe by shortening his swing, his contact rate will increase and K's will go down.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Agree with Irwin. He saw 4.24 pitches/PA last year. Much higher than average. If anything, he doesn't swing enough. His problem seems to be holes in his swing. As John has written on extensively, that seems to be what they are trying to fix with lowering that elbow and reducing his load...keep the bat in the zone longer in order to get the ball in play. His BAPIP was close to .300, so he just needs to get the bat on the ball more often.

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    So, from a scouting point of view, what do the Cubs take from Soler's performance yesterday? (I assume it's somewhere between "Can we return this kid to Cuba?" and "Holy crap, we need to trade Alfonso Soriano for peanuts so Soler can start in left field immediately.")

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Ha! Somewhere in between. I think you can't help but be impressed by the swing and the approach -- he grinded out both PAs, going to 3-1 on the first count (and I heard the strike was questionable, but it did give Soler a chance to unload on the next pitch), and then walked on a full count the next time up.

    That said, he still has to be able to adjust to pitchers when they adjust to him. That part is still a great unknown. Sooner or later pitchers will find a weakness to exploit and if you put him in the majors, that will be sooner -- and they'll be able to exploit it AB after AB. The minors will give him a chance to adjust at a more appropriate pace for his development.

    There is word from McLeod that he will start in Class A Daytona and if he dominates, he'll go to AA at some point in the season. That will possibly put him in AAA and knocking on the door for 2014.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Hes got the physical pre-requisites. Now its time to see if hes got the mental game, the hardest part to conquer. Personally, coming from Cuba this kid is going to love it here, and likely will make whatever adjustments are necessary.

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    Thanks for the breakdown John. Always good stuff. I was wondering if you had a chance to look at BA's article on the Cubs international signings? I noticed the article was up this morning but am ashamed to say that I am not a subscriber. Thanks!

  • In reply to Ryan Kalasz:

    I did. I've read it a few times even! Some love for the usual suspects: Soler, Paniagua. Most interesting nugget for me was that new 17 year old signing Frandy De La Rosa really stood out this offseason at the DR complex -- stood out even though there were more advanced players there (i.e. they mentioned Marco Hernandez as a prospect who was there).

    Looks like Cubs may have gotten a couple of sleepers too with pitching, including a 6'4" converted SS named Oscar de la Cruz who is already hitting 92 mph.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That is really great news about the international signings. When will the new complex be ready down there? I think it may be attracting the cream of the crop as far as talent already. Life is wonderful as a Cub fan right now.

  • In reply to John57:

    Almost exactly a year ago they said it would be 12-18 months before the groundbreaking. No news of that yet that I've seen, so I assume it's close but not done yet.

    Cubs had been building quite a brand in Latin America even before the complex, so it may really start to take off once it's really up and running.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I think you are right. The Cubs brand will really take off. This will be a BIG advantage going forward. We will be getting the best prospects and couple that with the best coaching/training/nutrition it will just be fantastic.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, you said "a couple of sleepers". Who was the other one besides de la Cruz? And outside of Badler, what are some good sources for Cubs international prospects? Thanks.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Luis Hernandez and LHP Jose Morel are huge (6'5, 6'6') and highly projectable. Hernandez already hitting 90s and Morel is close. Cubs will have some big pitchers in the DSL this year.

    Most of the national prospect guys will touch on international scouting but, in my opinion, there is no close second to Badler when it comes to international prospects.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, does Badler publish anything where his scouting reports can be read?

  • Nice article! I like the viewer better than GIFs, I think. Nice analysis tool.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby. I'm glad you chimed in on that because GIFs are something we've talked about using.

    Started off as an experiment but I'm really pleased at how it turned out. I like it better as well because you can break it down step by step.

  • It's official. I've now seen Soler's "shot heard around Cubs nation" more times than Bobby Thomson's original (so-called) "shot heard around the world," which I've been seeing periodically since rain delay programming on WGN back when Thomson was on the Cubs!

  • In reply to Floyd Sullivan:

    Couldn't resist that great shot by Tim. Good opportunity to breakdown that swing.

  • What is interesting about those still photos is that Soler still has work to do with his bottom half. He is uncoiling all in one phase, simultaneously, instead of leading with his backside, pulling the hands to that "elbow-hip connection point" in photo. In that photo it even appears his extension has accelerated beyond his hip rotation. Big loss in power! When he finally gets it, you will need to wear ear plugs. Other than that there isn't anything to pick on.

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