Jorge Soler, a Cuban defector who rates as one of the Cubs’ best prospects, was involved in an incident Wednesday at Single-A Daytona in which he grabbed a bat from his dugout and started to go after the other team.
CSNChicago.com’s Patrick Mooney has all of the details that were available as of Wednesday night. The Cubs, for what it’s worth, are choosing to stay quiet until they have the full story.
Daytona and Clearwater, the Phillies’ Florida State League affiliate, were involved in a benches-clearing incident after Soler, who was on base, and infielder Carlos Alonso got tangled up at second base. Once the field cleared, Soler reportedly grabbed a bat from his dugout and started headed towards Clearwater’s dugout.
Bradley Emery, who was at the game, tweeted that Soler “was right in front of the dugout yelling and screaming god knows what” before coaches managed to drag him away.
Soler was, of course, ejected. One imagines he’ll be facing some sort of suspension from the Florida State League and maybe additional discipline from the Cubs.
After defecting, Soler got a nine-year, $30 million contract to sign with the Cubs last summer. The 21-year-old was off to a nice start for high-A Daytona, hitting .435 with two homers in 23 at-bats. In his pro debut last year, he hit .299/.369/.463 in 134 at-bats between Rookie and low-A ball.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.