Injured prospect Soler could play in fall league

Injured prospect Soler could play in fall league

Injured prospect Soler could play in fall league

ST. LOUIS -- Cubs prospect Jorge Soler, sidelined with a stress fracture in his left tibia, was to be examined on Monday in Chicago to gauge the outfielder's recovery.

Soler, who was playing for Class A Daytona, was injured in late June, and expected to be sidelined four to six weeks. The Cubs were hopeful he could return to action this season. Soler could play in the Arizona Fall League, which begins in early October.

Soler, 21, was batting .281 with eight home runs, 13 doubles, one triple and 35 RBIs in 55 games with Daytona. He apparently fouled a ball off his left shin in Spring Training, and the injury flared up before the Florida State League All-Star Game.

Albert Almora, the Cubs' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, also was on the disabled list with a groin injury, and general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday the outfielder could be sidelined 10 days to two weeks. Almora is another candidate for the AFL.

Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 pick this year in the Draft, has been impressive at short-season Boise, and Hoyer said they will discuss a possible promotion. The third baseman would likely be bumped up to Class A Kane County next.

"He's played really well over the last couple weeks," Hoyer said. "It's to be expected that he would get off to a slow start. He hadn't played since the end of May. [A promotion] is something we'll be discussing over the next week or so."

On Thursday, Kyle Hendricks made a good impression in his first start with Triple-A Iowa, giving up one unearned run over seven innings, striking out five and walking one.

"He has a sub 2.00 ERA in Double-A and to go up and throw seven innings and no earned runs in Triple-A, it shows you the value of command," Hoyer said. "It's nothing spectacular, mostly fastball, changeup, but he locates everything down and to both sides of the plate. He's had a terrific year. You could make a strong argument that he's been the best [Cubs' Minor League] pitcher this year."

It's unlikely the Cubs would promote Hendricks to the big league club when rosters expand in September because they want to watch the innings count. What is encouraging is the quality of talent in the system.

"I feel much better about our pitching than I did a year ago," Hoyer said. "[Thursday] was a fun night in the Minor Leagues. We had a lot of guys throw well. We have better arms than a year ago, and we have to keep doing that year after year after year. You look at what the Cardinals are doing, they're moving guys around. They bring in [Carlos] Martinez yesterday and [Michael] Wacha tomorrow and we're not there by any stretch. We do have a lot more depth than we did a year ago."

One area the Cubs do need to improve on is developing more depth at catcher in the Minors.

"When I look at our Minor League system, almost every position on the diamond, you can find a pretty good prospect, and the catching area is thin," Hoyer said. "It's going to be a priority for us over the next couple years. We've made pitching such a priority and [catching] is an area we're thin in."

The Cubs recently promoted catcher Cael Brockmeyer from Boise to Triple-A Iowa after J.C. Boscan was added to the big league roster.

"It's really hard [to acquire catching]," Hoyer said. "When you get that guy who's a front line guy, you're spoiled."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.