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  1. Totally agree. Prospect lists that claim there are currently ~30-40 better prospects in the minor leagues are going to look foolish a year from now.

    Comment by Jack — March 4, 2013 @ 11:04 am

  2. Especially considering the two-year layoff you mentioned, one of the most impressive parts of his debut was how little he struck out– just 6 times in his 86 PA in the Midwest League. Tiny sample, but impressive nonetheless.

    He had 8 XBH to just 6 Ks with Peoria.

    Comment by Jack — March 4, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  3. If not Soler or Puig, Addison Russell has to be the #1. As a 19 year old he’s been lighting up ST so far in the big league camp. He really could be the next 20-or-under guy following Harper-Trout-Machado-Profar.

    Comment by Forrest Gumption — March 4, 2013 @ 11:16 am

  4. We have good video of Puig and Russell (below). I agree, but the reason why I wrote about Soler is two fold. First, Russell is already considered to be a top 10-25 prospect. When I do my annual “Projecting Next Year’s Top 10″ on Opening Day, he’ll be on there. Second, while I rank Soler in the top 10 as Jack mentions, he isn’t ranked there by the big guys.

    Russell Video – http://bullpenbanter.com/oakland-athletics-2013-top-15-prospects/
    Puig Video – http://bullpenbanter.com/los-angeles-dodgers-2013-top-15-prospects/

    Comment by JD Sussman — March 4, 2013 @ 11:20 am

  5. While I enjoyed the post, I am not sure what a “propsect” is. Or, in the non-jerk way of saying this, you have a typo in the title.

    Comment by BassmanUW — March 4, 2013 @ 11:58 am

  6. The first thing that catches one’s eye is Soler has the build of an elite athlete. He has a lean muscular frame that oozes athleticism. Soler’s upper legs are well developed and provide him with a powerful base. His chest and back are impressive too, but further growth of his upper half shouldn’t be unexpected.

    He can sell jeans.
    He has a good face.
    He’s not a Milo.

    There is quite a bit of buzz about Soler around here, and some Cubbie fans are more excited about him than they are Jackson. Regardless, there is excitement over the possibility of what those two could become while being in the same outfield.

    *grin*

    but further growth of his upper half shouldn’t be unexpected

    Stop writing in code. *grin* Just say that his upper body could develop as well, rather than the double negative.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 4, 2013 @ 12:29 pm

  7. Actually, I wrote exactly what I meant.

    Comment by JD Sussman — March 4, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

  8. Cool with me. Seemed like a double negative. I’m generally not a agent of the Grammer Police, so I’m not making a big deal out it.

    At age 20, a reasonable assumption is that he’s not done developing physically.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 4, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

  9. I don’t mind people commenting on mistakes. In fact, I welcome it. If you see something on one of my pieces, say something.

    If you change “further growth of his upper half shouldn’t be unexpected,” to “further growth of his upper half should be expected,” it has a different meaning.

    Comment by JD Sussman — March 4, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

  10. The simplicity of his swing and the use of his hands suggest he has the ability develop an average or better hit tool, but his aggressive approach and pitch recognition are important indicators to consider too. I’ve seen his approach questioned and witnesses him failing at breaking balls

    I’m reading this and picturing Soriano chasing low & away slider after low and away slider … and that’s considering Soriano is one of the most athletically gifted players around.

    I like Soler’s mechanics quite a bit. For a Cuban hitter, his mechanics are “very quiet” and streamlined. He also uses a deliberate and significant pullback and isn’t overly reliant on something like a leg kid or extreme weight shift that could lead to timing problems as he climbs the levels of difficulty of pro baseball.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 4, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

  11. JD, there seems to be some disagreement on his hit tool–Jason Parks, for example wrote
    “Weaknesses: Questions about the future utility of the hit tool based on a few mechanical hitches that could limit his ability to stay inside of quality stuff; defensive profile puts pressure on bat to achieve first-division value; unknown hurdles associated with assimilation process; small professional sample.”

    Any way to reconcile conflicting reports, or just different opinions from different folks?

    Comment by Oliver — March 4, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

  12. First, I think Jason is right. There are reasonable questions about his hit tool. In my looks of Soler he gets his hands accelerating very quickly, but he doesn’t keep them inside as well as others. He’s getting the barrel on those balls because of his quick hips creating space, not because his hands are inside. But, I don’t see a hitch. So in part, I agree with Jason. But, I don’t think it’s a major/long term/fatal issue. I’m more concerned has to do with his approach/expanding the zone/not getting good reads on breaking balls.

    Comment by JD Sussman — March 4, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

  13. Can you really lump a Trout and Harper in with two prospects that haven’t really scratched the majors yet?

    Comment by 81 — March 4, 2013 @ 1:54 pm

  14. We often hear a lot of cliche type mechanics stuff.

    Can anyone name an MLB hitter that has “trouble keeping their hands in on inside stuff”?

    Does inside stuff mean innner half or in off the plate?

    I ask because no batter handles in off the plate very well, but almost all handle inner half very well.

    The hips, lower back, shoulder, hands all work together … so I would’t credit one part of the body over the other.

    The elbow/shoulder pull back, creating “stretch” (potential energy) between hip-shoulder, and once the elbow drops (elbow move toward back hip), it’s all “released” together. Unless a player is using his front leg to “block” the release or something like that, it all works together rather well.

    I do agree with pitch selection and recognition as being concerns, but admitingly I’m not sure what % of that is due to Soler and what % is due to stereotypes/generalities about Latin batters.

    Found this while searching for more info about Soler’s mechanics …

    “The strength and swing really jump out at you,” said one rival NL scout. “He’s quick to the ball but he’s long in the zone, the ball jumps off the bat real well and he shows a pretty good feel for the strike zone as well. He’s going to be an impact offensive threat.”

    When I read stuff like this I [1] want to see how many frames his bat is in the zone and compared to MLB average, and [2] wonder if it’s just an impression from having a longish follow through. “Long in the zone” is said to be a bad thing, yet what makes Pujols such a good hitter is that his barrell is in the zone longer than most due to a flatter on the bottom c-path swing. Long in the zone could mean a slower swing, but what is his mph compared to average? There seems to be too much guesswork on things that could be easily measured.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — March 4, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

  15. Xander Bogaerts is absolutely in that mix

    Comment by brian — March 4, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

  16. Proofreading!

    I had to re-read several sentences to interpret what you were trying to say.

    Comment by Nathaniel Dawson — March 4, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

  17. This of course is not the same thing as a double negative – however it also offers little to no insight to the player. 95% of prospect fall into this category – so I would say the only mistake here is a VERY timid scouting report. Go out on a limb and predict what you think will happen.

    Comment by Matt — March 4, 2013 @ 5:14 pm

  18. JD, any reason to be concerned with Soler striking out in 50% his plate appearance this spring?

    Comment by Mike L — March 4, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

  19. Mike, even Sveum commmented that even in the at-bats Soler struck out in, he was still looking good in most of those at bats at the plate.

    Comment by Givejonadollar — March 4, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

  20. Nice article.

    Comment by dtpollitt — March 4, 2013 @ 6:57 pm

  21. How can you lump Harper with Trout? One superstar and one guy with a ton of hype…

    Comment by Big Steve — March 4, 2013 @ 11:21 pm

  22. He sounds dreamy!

    Comment by Big Steve — March 4, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

  23. circlechange never suggested the alteration that you’re describing, JD. “Just say that his upper body could develop as well” is the takeaway. brevity.

    otherwise, really enjoyed the article! soler is looking like a beast…

    Comment by ben_cartmell — March 5, 2013 @ 1:09 am

  24. So the chubs have these 3 plus Rizzo and Castro along with a solid ML rotation. Near .500 this year and playoff contenders in 2014?

    Comment by Antonio bananas — March 5, 2013 @ 3:38 am

  25. Bryce Harper .270/.340/.477 @ 19 years old
    Mike Trout .220/.281/.391 @ 19 years old

    That’s how.

    Comment by BSLJeffLong — March 5, 2013 @ 9:49 am

  26. “Bryce Harper .270/.340/.477 @ 19 years old
    Mike Trout .220/.281/.391 @ 19 years old

    That’s how.”

    Until Harper does anything close to Trout’s Age 20 season (very possible but hasn’t happened yet), then comparing their Age 19 seasons is irrelevant. Until Harper takes a similar step forward, they are on different tiers. I think Harper is bound for stardom, but there’s no guarantee that he makes the same 19-20 jump Trout did.

    Comment by E-Dub — March 5, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  27. Long in the zone doesn’t equate to long swing. Players with excellent bat speed can also be said to be in the zone a long time (“all day” is popular scouting parlance), meaning that their swing is designed to keep the barrel in the zoneas they clear their hips and extend their arms. It would be the opposite of a long swing, which may both travel a long way and take the barrel out of the zone when the arms are extended. I don’t know anyone who says that a swing that is in the zone a long time is bad, while a long swing is almost always a negative.

    Comment by E-Dub — March 5, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

  28. I love all three of those guys. I think they could all be top 20 prospects this time next year.

    Comment by Jon Williams — March 5, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

  29. Because Harper is already showing he is going to be a superstar and he is the most heralded hitting prospect in decades. You are the only person on earth that doesn’t lump those 2 together.

    Comment by nilbog44 — March 5, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

  30. Who do you think will turn out better, Christian Yelich or Jorge Soler?

    Comment by tancook — June 13, 2013 @ 9:02 am

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