On Monday, the Cubs finalized terms with Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler. The $30 million contract will span nine years, and on the front-end, it appears to be a fantastic deal for the Cubs. The long term nature of the signing puts zero pressure on Chicago to rush the 20-year-old to the bigs. They’ll be able to develop him gradually, to ease him into stateside baseball. After this signing, plus a nice take at last week’s draft, and then assuming the pieces they’ll fetch in trades for Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, the rebuilding efforts of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are clearer than ever. Were I a Cubs fan, I’d be giddy about the future. I’m not. No, I’m a Cardinals fan and I loathe the damn Cubs, so this all frightens me a bit. Nonetheless, here’s a little of what to expect from the Northsiders’ newest prospect:
Standing 6-3, 225, Soler profiles as a big, athletic corner outfielder. Plus arm strength makes right field his most likely destination, but he’ll spend time at all three outfield posts on his way through the minors. The real attraction here is the bat. Soler’s ability to hit for average is the most debated tool in his arsenal. Some think he’ll fare ok in that regard, and some think the whiffs will pile up and he’ll struggle. No one, however, denies his power potential. Soler possesses raw power, which many liken to that of Giancarlo Stanton. That sort of pop will play big in the fantasy game. The Cubs will be patient with him, though. They’ll keep him in Arizona for instructional ball for a good month before they send him to A-ball (probably Low-A Peoria). If everything goes as planned, Soler arrives at Wrigley sometime in 2014.
Andrew Chafin | LHP, D’Backs | Born: 6/17/1990
A Diamondbacks pitching prospect leads Minor League Baseball in strikeouts, but it’s not the one you’d think. It’s not even the second one you’d think. What I’m trying to say is that a D’Backs pitcher who is not named Trevor Bauer or Tyler Skaggs leads the minors in K’s. Andrew Chafin is his name, actually, and he’s been quite good in 2012. And while he’s not a prospect of the same caliber as Bauer or Skaggs, Chafin is certainly worth knowing.
At 6-2, 205, he looks like a power lefty, and with a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s, I suppose it’d be accurate to label him as such. Chafin’s best weapon, however, is not the heater, but rather a nasty slider that has been devastating California League hitters all year long. The sweeping slide piece has tremendous horizontal break, but offers plenty of vertical tilt as well. It’s unquestionably a plus-plus pitch, and it’s no wonder that Chafin has been racking up K’s to the tune of 11.7/9 with that filth in his arsenal. The lefty also features a decent changeup — a pitch some scouts see developing into an above-average offering.
Arizona has been patient with Chafin to this point. While at Kent State, he missed all of 2010 to Tommy John surgery, but recovered nicely for 2011 and wound up 43rd overall in last year’s draft. After only throwing one pro inning last year, the D’Backs placed him at High-A Visalia to begin 2012. Chafin’s been there since, and while his 3.78 ERA isn’t the prettiest figure on his season line, his FIP reflects much more favorably at 2.65. Also, the Cali League is notoriously tough on pitchers. By my estimation, Chafin is in for a bump up to Double-A soon, and he should be ready for the bigs sometime next year. He doesn’t project quite like a fantasy ace, but big time K-potential and the ability to help across multiple categories should make him a nice piece in any format.