MILWAUKEE – Jorge Soler, one of the most-hyped prospects in the Cubs organization, hit another roadblock on what he hoped would be the fast track to Wrigley Field.
Soler has a stress fracture of his left tibia, the team announced Thursday, and will be in a walking boot for the next four-to-six weeks. The Cubs don’t want to say it’s a season-ending injury yet, but the $30 million Cuban outfielder will miss out on another big chunk of development time.
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Soler hasn’t played in a game at advanced Class-A Daytona since June 13, and that season ends on Sept. 1. Cubs president Theo Epstein said the initial injury was traced back to a ball Soler fouled off his left leg near the end of spring training.
Soler will be back in Mesa, Ariz., to rehab. He was examined by the team’s medical staff on Wednesday in Chicago and ruled out from playing in the Futures Game, the All-Star showcase on July 14 at New York’s Citi Field.
“Some of the docs think he could have almost a full month at the end of the season,” Epstein said after a 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. “That’s maybe a little aggressive, but I think he’ll probably play again this season. We’re going to strongly consider trying to get him into the Arizona Fall League so he can make up those at-bats. That’s something I think he’s ready for.”
Soler, 21, had missed basically two years of game action as he defected from Cuba, trained in the Dominican Republic, established residency in Haiti and finally gained clearance to sign a nine-year contract in the United States last summer.
Through 55 games at Daytona, Soler was hitting .281 with eight homers, 35 RBI, 21 walks and an .810 OPS, while being motivated watching fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig become an overnight star with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“He showed a really advanced feel for working at-bats for a guy who hadn’t played baseball in a couple years,” Epstein said. “He showed the ability to make adjustments and take them right into the game. He shows a knack for getting his pitch and then not missing it. He’s starting to learn how to elevate the ball.
“That’s a big thing for him. He hit the ball really hard early in the season but it was usually on the ground or down the line. As he gets repetitions, he’s figuring out how to elevate the ball and he’s going to hit for tremendous power.”
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Soler made more headlines for the wrong reasons. The Florida State League suspended him for five games in April after he grabbed a bat and had to be restrained by teammates and coaches during a bench-clearing incident. He also got benched for not hustling, part of “The Cubs Way” top-down emphasis throughout the organization.
“He fit right in,” Epstein said. “He did a nice job on the bases and in the outfield. He really bounced back from that one incident to be a really good teammate and good citizen. We feel great about his future prospects.”