On Monday, The Wife and I packed up The Wee One and took her to her very first baseball game.  What’s that you say?  Why yes, that is very observant, the Cubs were out of town on Monday.  So what game took my daughter’s baseball virginity?  The Class A Kane County Cougars vs Peoria Chiefs game of course.  I wish I could say that the driving force was that I wanted to show my little girl baseball in its purest form with dollar hotdogs and five dollar tickets.  Young men grinding out life on buses across the Midwest playing the game they love for the chance to someday get called up to the show and step foot in one of the major league cathedrals in a uniform with their name on the back.  Unfortunately that’s not the case.  I in fact dragged the family to Batavia, IL to go see my 20 year old Cuban man-crush in person for the first time.

Labor Day was the last game of Peoria’s schedule and thus the last opportunity to see Jorge Soler in the state of Illinois until he makes his Wrigley Field debut.  In this humble writer’s opinion it was too good of an opportunity to pass up so we packed up the car and headed west.  And let me tell you Jorge was worth the wait.

For those who don’t stay atop of all things Cub, Jorge Soler was the Northsiders prize international acquisition this summer.  Twenty year old, 6’3” 205 lb. five tool right fielders don’t exactly grow on trees.  In case you haven’t been paying attention, since the heyday of Sammy Sosa patrolling Wrigley names such as Jeremy Burnitz, Jaques Jones, Matt Murton, Kosuke Fukudome & Tyler Colvin amongst others have manned the position with little fanfare. 

I would be lying if I said that upon entering the ballpark my eyes didn’t go directly to right field.  Out there stood a man amongst boys, literally.  Soler looks like a major leaguer.  I would guess he’s closer to 220 lbs than he is his listed 205, and if you think about that for a second that’s pretty remarkable.  If a 6’3” 220 lb kid was born in Dayton, OH today the question would be whether he’s going to play wide receiver or linebacker.  Instead, coming from Havana, baseball was practically his only choice and the Cubs are the beneficiaries. 

During the at-bats we saw Soler drew a walk (a novel concept throughout the Cubs organization this year) and was caught stealing on what I believe was a botched hit & run, reached for a breaking ball resulting in an easy flyout to left, and laced a single through the hole on the left side of the infield.  He later got hit by a pitch but we were long gone as 6 innings of baseball is a win with a five month old in tow. 

Additionally, Soler was never really tested in the outfield during our stay but there was a situation in the bottom of the third where the Cougars had a runner on second and the batter singled on the ground through the hole on the right side of the infield.  Nine times out of ten that runner on seconds scores on that ball but Soler got to it quickly and the Cougars third base coach held the runner, perhaps in fear of the Cuban Missile Crisis that was about to take place with Soler’s renowned throwing arm.  The next batter popped out to second and the following batter ground into a double play.  No runs scored and the crisis was averted.

For the year Soler played all of twenty games for Peoria and had eighty at-bats.  In those eighty at-bats he sprayed 27 hits around the field including three homeruns and five double.  He had a 1:1 strikeout to walk ration (six of each) which is pretty impressive for any level.  The only player to put up better numbers than him in Peoria this year was fellow unhealthy man-crush Javier Baez. 

All in all I think Soler has had a successful first season of baseball in the organization.  Brett Taylor over at www.BleacherNation.com (a Twitter favorite as well @BleacherNation) offered his own take on Soler today as well which is certainly worth a read.  The good news is that between current Cubs Castro, Rizzo and probably Brett Jackson, as well as prospects who are on their way (namely Soler, Javier Baez, and 2012 1st round pick Albert Almora) the offense should be in good hands in the years to come.  It’s the pitching that needs to be the focus now (as evidence by 10 of the first 11 draft picks this year being pitchers).  The better news is that the Cubs are looking to make Kane County their Class A affiliate next year meaning these five dollar tickets and family atmosphere scouting trips could become more of a regular outing for the Chi-Guy clan.  Wait until you see how excited I get for Jeimer Candelario, Albert Almora and Daniel Vogelbach.  I swear the pleats in my pants are causing an optical illusion.