Kuntz confident Soler will become solid outfielder

KC coach's teachings aided Gordon, Cain and Dyson

Kuntz confident Soler will become solid outfielder

KANSAS CITY -- One of the reasons that general manager Dayton Moore made the trade for outfielder Jorge Soler was because of his faith in Royals outfield coach Rusty Kuntz.

Soler is generally regarded as an average to below-average defensive player. Kuntz is regarded throughout baseball as one of the best outfield teachers, with proteges from Gold Glove outfielder Alex Gordon to Lorenzo Cain to Jarrod Dyson.

"We have confidence that Rusty will be of great help with Jorge," Moore said.

Moore on bringing Soler to KC

Kuntz isn't waiting around to get started. He'll head to Surprise, Ariz., at the end of this month to get started working with Soler.

"It's pretty much the same thing I did with Alex Rios," Kuntz told MLB.com. "Get there a couple of weeks early and just do some individual drills. It's easier to manage your time before everyone starts showing up."

Kuntz is intrigued by Soler's potential.

"We know the scouting reports on him," Kuntz said. "But he's an athletic guy and when you have that, you have something to work with. His hands and feet work just fine, so you start with that.

"He's just a very big person [6-foot-4, 225 pounds]. He's built like a tight end. He'll be my new best friend. My bodyguard."

Soler on joining the Royals

Kuntz has heard nothing but positive things about Soler's attitude, especially from Royals Minor League outfield and baserunning coordinator Mitch Maier, who knew Soler from their days together with the Cubs.

"Mitch said he just has a great work ethic," Kuntz said. "He's got a Lorenzo Cain smile. And he'll work hard and then want to hang out with the guys in the clubhouse. That sounds pretty good.

"I'm not worried at all about him defensively. Sure, compared to Cain and Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore and Billy Burns, he won't look as fast. But who does? He'll be on the Gordo level for speed, and that's fine. It'll be very playable."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.