Chicago Cubs

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 23:  Jorge Soler #68 of the Chicago Cubs follows through on a swing against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 23, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Jorge Soler takes batting practice for first time since ankle injury

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Jorge Soler has been sidelined since June 1 due to a left ankle sprain, but he’s getting closer to rejoining the Cubs.

According to Tony Andracki of CSNChicago.com, Soler was able to take batting practice yesterday for the first time since the injury. He resumed throwing over the weekend and was recently able to shed his walking boot. He’s likely not far off from a minor league rehab assignment at this point.

After a strong showing during his first stint in the majors this season, the 23-year-old Soler was off to a bit of a slow start prior to the injury, batting .265/.322/.402 with four home runs and 19 RBI over 49 games. Chris Denorfia is playing right field in his absence.

Video: Kris Bryant hits first career grand slam off position player David Murphy

Kris Bryant
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What happens when a position player taking the mound in a blowout pitches to one of the best power-hitting prospects of the past decade?

Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant hit his first career grand slam off Indians outfielder David Murphy, that’s what.

Bryant surprisingly had zero homers in his first 20 games, but since homering for the first time on May 9 he’s hit .311 with eight homers and a .961 OPS in 35 games. Overall he has an .886 OPS in 55 games, which would be the ninth-best OPS in baseball history for a 23-year-old third baseman and the best since Evan Longoria in 2009.

The Year Of The Call-Up

Byron Buxton
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It’s a helluva time to be a prospect buff.

Every year a wave of top prospects arrive in the majors, but this season’s crop was particularly strong and has been arriving in the majors at a particularly rapid pace recently. It’s been very exciting.

Nine of the top dozen prospects on Baseball America’s preseason list have already been called up and it’s only mid-June.

No. 1 prospect Kris Bryant of the Cubs and No. 8 prospect Joc Pederson of the Dodgers are fighting each other for the NL Rookie of the Year award. No. 3 prospect Addison Russell and No. 12 prospect Jorge Soler have also been everyday players for the Cubs, playing big roles in Chicago’s turnaround, and No. 11 prospect Noah Syndergaard is entrenched in the Mets’ starting rotation.

And within the past two weeks No. 2 prospect Byron Buxton of the Twins, No. 4 prospect Carlos Correa of the Astros, No. 6 prospect Joey Gallo of the Rangers, and No. 9 prospect Francisco Lindor of the Indians have all been promoted to the big leagues for the first time. Buxton and Lindor both made their MLB debuts Sunday (and Buxton did so in a game that featured Gallo’s fourth homer in 11 games).

That leaves the Dodgers’ duo of No. 5 prospect Corey Seager and No. 10 prospect Julio Urias, plus No. 7 prospect Lucas Giolito of the Nationals as the only members of Baseball America’s top-12 prospects coming into the season who’ve not yet been called up to the big leagues. And based on Seager’s strong performance in the minors and Jimmy Rollins’ weak performance for the Dodgers his call-up could be right around the corner.

Not all of these guys will go on to become stars and some will probably become flat-out busts, just because that’s how top prospects tend to work, but the wave of young, high-upside talent arriving in the majors already this season is pretty spectacular.