Once upon a time, the Royals had a highly touted right-field prospect. They had acquired him in a weird trade where they sent a pretty good player to another team in a move that didn’t necessarily make a lot of sense. When he first arrived in KC he hit terribly in limited playing time and got demoted to Omaha a couple different times. The Royals had promised he had all kinds of power when they made the trade but he sure didn’t show much of it when he got to KC and everyone was pretty frustrated.
I am, of course, talking about Jermaine Dye.
The thing you may also recall about Jermaine Dye is that by his age 25 season, not coincidentally the same age Jorge Soler will be next season, he finally figured out how to limit his strikeouts a bit and how to tap into his power a lot. He became a force in the middle of the Royals lineup for two and a half years, until they were forced to trade him before he hit free agency but inexplicably acquired Neifi Perez from the Colorado Rockies instead of anything resembling high-value prospects. Ah, the good old days of Royal ineptitude.
None of this means Jorge Soler will suddenly figure things out, next year, of course. Dye never had quite the issues with strikeouts that Soler does nor did he have the injury history. But even without comparisons to Dye, there is still reason to hope Soler still might turn into a decent hitter. For starters, at age 25 he is still relatively young and only just entering the period when baseball players usually hit their peaks. While Soler was terrible in KC last year there’s no reason to believe that is the “real” Jorge Soler. The biggest piece of evidence for this is that he was at least a league average hitter for parts of 3 years in Chicago. But he also absolutely destroyed the Pacific Coast League for Omaha, last season, as well. He slashed .267/.388/.564/.952 down there. That tied him at fifteenth in all of AAA with 24 home runs and every single AAA hitter who hit even as many as 20 home runs played in more than Jorge’s 74 games except for one; Jabari Blash of the Padres farm system hit 20 bombs in only 72 contests.
Many fans seem convinced they’ve already seen everything Soler can contribute to the team and that it isn’t nearly enough. But Soler missed the end of Spring Training and the first month of the season due to an injury, last year. He got to play in only 18 of 22 Royals games when he returned before he was demoted to Omaha for the first time. He made the trip back and forth 3 more times. He never played in even 5 straight MLB games again in 2017. Every sport requires repetition as much as anything else in order to succeed and that might be even more true in baseball than most of the others. He wasn’t ever given an opportunity to build up a steady dose of at-bats in KC last season so it’s no wonder he struggled while he was there.
The hometown crowd also seems to hold against him the fact that he was the only return for fan-favorite Wade Davis. While it’s true that the Royals should have gotten more for their best reliever, it wasn’t Jorge’s fault. It also wasn’t really his fault he wasn’t able to help out the team. Sam Mellinger helpfully pointed out shortly after the deal was made that it was more about the future than it was about 2017. Hopefully, now that the team has completely moved on from Wade Davis the 2018 Royals and their fans can take Soler on his own merits. And hopefully, now that the Royals admit they probably can’t compete this season they’ll give him an opportunity to sink or swim at the big league level.
The Wade Davis for Jorge Soler trade shouldn’t be ruled a fleecing, yet. Jorge Soler shouldn’t be ruled a bust, yet. Honestly, we probably still won’t even have the answers to those questions at the end of this year. It’s said that many people regret the failures that resulted of never having tried a thing far more than those where a true, earnest attempt was made. If the Royals don’t play Soler for most of this season failure for Dayton Moore, Ned Yost, and the team as a whole that they and their fans may regret for a very long time.
How many games do you want Jorge Soler to play in 2018?
This poll is closed
150 or so
Every day for the first half, then re-evaluate
He can come off the bench as the fourth OF
He should play in Omaha all year
The Royals should just cut him now