Every Friday I will be taking a look at a prospect in the lower levels of the minors who is a strong candidate to move toward the top of prospect lists, if they are not already near the top. This week's player is in the news for all the wrong reasons this week, but is still considered one of the top prospects in the minors. He was playing at High-A Daytona, but will miss the next five games due to suspension.
The Cubs made a splash last season with the signing of Cuban defector Jorge Soler to a 9 year, $30 million contract just before the new international signing rules took effect. He signed at the age of 20, and was sent to the Cubs' Arizona League affiliate to start his professional career. After 14 games there, he was promoted to the Cubs' Low-A Midwest League affiliate in Peoria, and finished his season with a .299/.369/.463 slash line, 5 home runs, 25 runs batted in, 12 stolen bases, 12 walks and 19 strikeouts in 34 games played.
The reports coming into the season all pointed toward a potential five-tool athlete with a right-field profile. We had Soler as our #8 fantasy outfield prospect during the offseason, behind yesterday's discussed prospect, Oswaldo Arcia. He is known specifically for his plus power potential, which could rate amongst the best in the minors. In addition, he is expected to potentially be a five-category contributor with middle-of-the-order upside. There were some questions about his hit tool, which remain based on the sample size we have so far.
He is hitting .435/.519/.739 with 2 home runs in 6 games so far in High-A, but after last night we don't really know when he will be back in a game for Daytona. You can read all of the details of last night's incident from the post at Bleed Cubbie Blue, but needless to say it's not what you wanted to see from a top prospect. Grabbing a bat and charging into the opponent's dugout will unfortunately open up questions about makeup which may not be able to be ignored for a while. Soler was suspended for five games, and it sounds like the Cubs expect the incident to stay in the past at this point.
Realistically, I'm not sure how much this really affects his standing as a top prospect. It sounds like the whole thing might have started as a misunderstanding, which escalated to a point it never should have. That doesn't excuse the behavior by any means, but I wonder if this becomes a single point in his history rather than a potential pattern in the future. Soler still has the potential to be a top-tier fantasy outfielder, with the potential to provide 25+ home runs along with double digit stolen bases and a solid batting average. He even has the potential to have more value in OBP leagues, as he has shown an excellent eye to this point as well. It could potentially be a buying opportunity if you believe this is an isolated incident, and I would definitely reach out to any owners who are feeling skittish about Soler now.
For more on Soler and the Chicago Cubs, be sure to check out SBNation's Bleed Cubbie Blue.
Jason Hunt is a contributor to Fake Teams. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonsbaseball.