A few days ago, MLB announced that Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler is now free to sign with any team. Some in the industry think he has already signed with a major league team, which is illegal, so it will be interesting to see where he eventually signs. As a Dodgers fan, I hope the Dodgers get involved in the bidding, but some think the Cubs are the front runners to sign him.
Here is some excerpts from the Baseball America scouting report (subscription required) on him:
Listed at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds at Thunder Bay, Soler stands out for his thick, physical build and strength. Power is Soler's best tool, as he shows great bat speed, the ability to hit balls out to all fields and the potential to hit 25 home runs per year. While scouts like his power and some like his swing, he bars his front arm and the stiffness in his stroke is a concern for some scouts. Scouts have offered differing opinions on his ability to hit breaking balls, but he has a history of laying off pitches outside the strike zone in international competition and has more on-base potential than Cespedes.
Soler is athletic for his size and there are reports of him running the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds—a time that grades out as well above-average speed—but several scouts have said he's really an average runner at best, running better underway than down the line.
I remember reading that some in the industry felt he was a better prospect than Yoenis Cespedes, so that is saying something, as Cespedes has done well in his first look at major league pitching. I think the main reason some felt he was the better prospect is because he is younger than Cespedes.
More on Soler after the jump:
In a recent Ask BA column over at Baseball America, one reader asked where Soler would rank in the BA Top 100 rankings, and here is the BA response:
As for the 2012 Top 100 Prospects list, Soler is somewhat similar to Royals outfielder Bubba Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Starling has the advantages of being more athletic and a better bet to stay in center field. I'd see both of them sitting in the 11-20 range on our next Top 100.
So Soler would be a Top 20 prospect in 2013 according to Baseball America. I just wonder if that ranking will hold true once he signs and starts seeing time in Low A in 2012.