We’ve heard so much about viral sensation Yoenis Cespedes in the media this month that another talented Cuban outfielder is flying under the radar. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t generated plenty of buzz among MLB front-office types.
According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, the Marlins, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers and Cubs are among the teams who have expressed interest in 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler. Similar to Cespedes, Soler defected from Cuba and is currently working out for teams in the Dominican Republic. The Marlins and Rangers have already checked him out in person.
Soler isn’t anywhere close to major-league ready like Cespedes, but Frisaro heard from a scout that he boasts serious power potential and is only slightly smaller than Mike Stanton, who stands checks in at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Oh boy. Imagine these two in the very same lineup someday. I can hear the nicknames already.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote earlier this week that Soler is expected to receive a contract in the neighborhood of the three-year, $15.5 million deal the Rangers gave Cuban center fielder Leonys Martin earlier this year.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.