After homering in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday in Cincinnati, Chicago Cubs rookie Jorge Soler followed up with two hits in the series finale on Thursday, and on Friday he stole the show at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, connecting on a pair of monstrous late-inning home runs to lead Chicago to an impressive 7-2 victory.
With Chicago trailing by a run in the seventh inning, Soler calmly stepped in against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller and viciously unloaded on his first-pitch 94-mph, sending it beyond the center field wall for a game-tying home run. The connection made one of those sweet bat-meeting-baseball sounds we all close our eyes and dream about, and given the immense power Soler already possesses at just 22 years old, once he hit it, it stayed hit for a long time.
Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay actually thought he had a shot to scale the wall and bring it back. Clearly, he underestimated the power of Soler, because there was no chance.
After fellow phenom Javier Baez broke the tie in the eighth inning with a two-run double off All-Star
Pat Neshak, Soler stepped up again, and again he was hacking first pitch. This time it wasn't a straight fastball, but rather a 91-mph sinker. That made no difference to Soler though. Another solid connection was made, and this time he launched it over the bullpen in left field for another two-run shot, giving him three roundtrippers in his first three games.
''I feel so happy,'' Soler said through an interpreter. ''I don't know how to explain it. Everything is going so good right now.''
Soler's big start continues an impressive trend for the young Cubbies.
That includes rookie Arismendy Alcantara, who collected four hits in only his second career game in July.
Of course, Javier Baez made big news in his debut in Colorado on Aug. 5, hitting an extra-inning go-ahead home run that proved to be the difference for Chicago. Two days later, he followed with a pair of home runs, giving him three through three career games, just like Soler.
You could almost say, anything Javier Baez can do, Jorge Soler can do just a little bit better. With seven hits, three home runs and six RBIs overall, the Cuban outfielder is off to a slightly hotter three-game start.
Indeed Kris Bryant would seem to be next in line on the Cubs prospect train. It could easily be argued that he's ready, too, considering he's clobbered 43 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A this season. However, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer says there are still no plans to make that call this season.
“Nothing’s changed on that front,” Hoyer said.
“He’s not on the roster, so right away that would knock another player off the roster,” Hoyer said. “We’re going to be really tight on the roster (this winter). We feel like in his first full season, he’s going to get 140-plus games. He’s played exceptionally well.”
Patience is a virtue, but one can't blame Cubs fans for wanting to see what Bryant has in store for them. If this summer is any indication, they are definitely in for a treat that will keep them smiling for several seasons to come.
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