Cubs eager to take a longer look at Soler, Baez

Cubs eager to take a longer look at Soler, Baez
February 20, 2013, 11:15 pm
Share This Post

MESA, Ariz. – Jorge Soler pulled his white SUV into the spot reserved for Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Javier Baez parked his white Mercedes-Benz right next to it.

The two big-name prospects haven’t taken over the place yet. They made an extra stop for a few minutes after Wednesday’s rain-shortened workout as the Cubs cleaned out their lockers and moved their stuff from Fitch Park to HoHoKam Stadium.

Soler and Baez are eventually going to make the trip back down Center Street and return to minor-league camp. But first they will get a taste of the Cactus League.

Just like the Cubs fans counting down their arrival to Wrigley Field, manager Dale Sveum is curious to see how two of Baseball America’s top 100 prospects perform.

“I’m very anxious,” Sveum said. “Obviously, those are the guys you talk about that are on your radar in the minor-league system. They have all those God-given tools – the speed, the arm, the power.

“It’s pretty special talent and bat speed those guys have – you want to see it in person and in game speed.”

Soler and Baez will bat fifth-sixth – followed by Junior Lake and Brett Jackson – in the Blue team’s lineup for Thursday’s intrasquad scrimmage at HoHoKam Stadium.

“You can get used to being here,” Baez said. “(But you got) to work hard every day.”

Before Opening Day, the Cubs will play close to 40 exhibitions during a spring that will also feature the World Baseball Classic. That means Baez and Soler could get an extended look.

“They have to prepare for (their minor-league) season as well,” Sveum said. “There always comes that time in spring training where the starters start going seven innings and preparing. But we have so many split-squad games, they’re going to get quite a few games in before anything happens (where they’re) getting sent down. There’s a lot of at-bats out there.”

Baseball America sees Baez (No. 16) and Soler (No. 34) as blue-chip prospects. Theo Epstein’s front office has been touting them as pieces for The Foundation for Sustained Success.

[Related: Four Cubs crack Baseball America's top 100 prospects]

The Chicago press corps has been hyping them, too, looking for future angles after covering a 101-loss season and not having much drama in a clubhouse without Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano.

Eventually Soler, the $30 million Cuban defector, will return to Fitch Park and hit cars with his bombs in batting practice. Baez, the 2011 first-round pick, is on a faster track, but still has less than 300 at-bats in professional baseball.

Baez notices it on his Twitter account, how eager Cubs fans are to see the future arrive at Wrigley Field.

“I’m really excited to be here,” Baez said, “(and) see all the fans and play in front of a lot of people who show the love they got for you.”