By Dayn Perry
Soler is inevitably compared to his countryman Yoenis Cespedes, who signed a four-year, $36-million pact with the A's earlier this offseason, but there's one key difference: age. At 26, Cespedes is more major-league ready than the 19-year-old Soler. However, Soler, obviously, will have the opportunity to spend his formative baseball years under the aegis of a major-league organization, and he also boasts the higher ceiling. It's generally acknowledged that Soler is ready for High-A right now, so it's conceivable he could reach the highest level for good by late 2013.
As for Soler's baseball skills, Baseball America's Jim Callis likens him to Royals uber-prospect Bubba Starling and suggests that, had he been eligible, Soler may have gone in the top five of last year's draft.
More from Callis: "Six-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Soler has explosive bat speed and power potential. He also has plus speed and arm strength and profiles as a classic right fielder, though he runs well enough to play center. Because of his youth, he'll need some time to develop, but he should be worth the wait."
After signing left-hander Gerardo Concepcion earlier this winter, Theo Epstein and the Cubs are obviously undaunted by the difficulties in vetting and projecting Cuban talent. Indeed, if the Soler rumors come to be realized, then this would amount to Epstein's boldest move since assuming control of the Cubs' baseball operations.