A day after the Chicago Cubs' 2012 top draft pick Albert Almora enjoyed the Wrigley atmosphere, the Cubs’ Cuban free-agent prize, Jorge Soler, had his chance to put on a batting practice show.
“At first I was a little intimidated because I’ve never been in a big league ballpark before,” Soler said with special assistant to the general manager Louis Ejaua serving as his interpreter. “But after a little while I felt comfortable, I felt like I fit right in.”
Soler last played in a game on Labor Day with the Cubs low-A minor league affiliate Peoria Chiefs. Though he’s had nearly two weeks away from the game -- with some light hitting in cages while he was in Miami -- Soler showed no signs of rust during his 30 or so swings in batting practice.
The 20-year-old right fielder launched five would-be home runs, including one that easily landed on Waveland Avenue behind the left field stands. Soler pulled most everything in his first four sessions, but made a concerted effort to drive the ball to center in his last few at-bats, hitting the top of the wall that stands 400 feet away a couple times.
Soler, who said time will tell when he arrives in Wrigley full-time, seems to have already found a good friend in Almora. The two got to know each other when Almora and Team USA faced Soler’s Cuban Junior National team in the World Junior Championships in Canada a few years ago.
That bond only grew after they roomed together during their stints in the Arizona Rookie League this summer. Almora has requested to room with Soler again when the two head for the instructional league in the coming days.
“He helped me a lot when we were in Arizona,” Soler said of Almora. “He’d speak to me in English and teach me a few words. I’m looking forward to continuing that.”