Cubs could learn Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler’s decision soon
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 10, 2012 6:59PM
David DeJesus gets hit by a Jared Burton pitch in the eighth inning Sunday. | Hannah Foslien~Getty Images
Updated: July 12, 2012 6:12AM
MINNEAPOLIS — The Cubs might find out Monday just how successful the new regime’s first year will be.
Considered the favorites since November to land touted Cuban outfield prospect Jorge Soler, the Cubs were among a handful of teams entering a second round of bidding over the weekend. A decision by Soler is expected early this week.
Team insiders were hopeful, if not optimistic, of landing the power-hitting corner outfielder, even as the New York Yankees were said to be aggressively involved.
Talent evaluators consider Soler, 20, the equivalent of a top-10 draft pick. During the winter, he often was referred to as a younger version of center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, who signed with the Oakland Athletics.
Soler became eligible to sign as a free agent this month, a significant development considering international signing restrictions go into effect July 2.
After that, teams are limited to $2.9 million annually for all international signings.
Cespedes got $36 million over six years from the A’s. While Soler is expected to need at least two or three years in the minors, most predictions for his contract start at more than $20 million.
‘E’ for effort
Less than a week after he got chewed out for losing track of the outs, Starlin Castro lapsed on a routine chopper in the seventh inning Sunday, but he quickly turned his error into a defensive gem.
With one out and the Minnesota Twins’ Trevor Plouffe on second, Castro quickly tracked down a ball that escaped him and threw off-balance to the plate to nail Plouffe, who had reached third on the error.
“That was a big play at the time,” manager Dale Sveum said.
The Cubs led 4-0, and the Twins didn’t score in the inning.
“If he doesn’t pick the ball up and throw the guy out, that’s where something snowballs and things get out of whack,” Sveum said. “It was kind of a momentum-switcher, and then it switched right back in our favor within a couple of seconds.”
Despite criticism, Castro has improved noticeably in the field as the season has progressed.
“He made an unbelievable throw from his back foot, and he threw a strike to the plate,” pitcher Ryan Dempster said. “That’s the kind of ability he has, and that’s why people harp on him so much about his attention out there on the field, because he has a chance to be a really, really special player.”
Sveum had no one warming up in the bullpen and Dempster poised to return for the ninth at 117 pitches, but the top of the ninth lasted too long.
◆ Jeff Samardzija, who gave up a career-high eight runs Saturday, worked with pitching coach Chris Bosio on bad habits Sveum said he has fallen into with his mechanics in recent starts.