The Chicago Cubs made it interesting late in last night’s 7-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds but Jorge Soler did not disappoint. Cubs’ manager, Rick Renteria elected to bat Soler in the five-hole in a lineup that was without Anthony Rizzo. Soler came up in the top of the second inning for his first major league at bat and promptly took a 2-1 fastball from, Reds’ Starter, Mat Latos 423 feet to centerfield. In doing so, Soler became the first Cub to go yard in his first major league at bat since Starlin Castro did it in 2010, which was also in Cincinnati. Then in the eighth inning, Soler singled through the left side, scoring Javier Baez. Soler finished the night 2-4 with a home run, two RBI’s, and a strike out.
Overall, Soler had a fantastic debut. He was able to put almost all of his tools on display and seemed to fit right in with the clubhouse. Soler’s highlight of the night though (aside from his home run) was his display of plate discipline. Maybe we’re all a little weary of free-swinging from watching Javier Baez’s lack of plate discipline, but Soler’s knowledge of the strike zone and patience at the plate was very impressive. He showed the ability to work deep into the count and he forced Mat Latos to throw him good pitches. It was very clear that Soler had a plan each time he went up to bat and that he modified his approach in reaction to each pitch. For example, in a 2-0 count in the first inning, Mat Latos threw a very hittable fastball just above the knees on the inner half of the plate and Soler didn’t even flinch at it. He knew that he was in the drivers seat and that he didn’t need to swing at anything but his pitch. He then proceeded to unload on the next fastball he saw for his first big league hit and home run.
Rick Renteria said before yesterday’s game that he plans on hitting Soler fifth or sixth for the remainder of the season but it will be interesting to see where Soler finally settles in. Will he hit fifth or sixth once Anthony Rizzo returns? It may even be worth giving him a shot hitting second, just to see how he fits in and to get him an extra at bat per game. Given his plate discipline and Baez’s refusal to lay off bad pitches, hitting Soler second may actually be a win-win for the Cubs.
There are still many questions yet to be answered, but Jorge Soler came out with a bang and made his debut with some Yasiel Puig-esk flare, despite the loss. It should be an exciting last five weeks of the season!
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