UPDATED: The story has been updated with news of Soler’s suspension.
Since he’s come to the U.S. from Cuba, Cubs right fielder Jorge Soler had lived up to every expectation as far as showing his potential to eventually be an impact player in the big leagues.
On Wednesday, Soler took a step back in his journey to Chicago. The 21-year-old was ejected from high Class A Daytona’s game against Clearwater after the seventh inning when he charged the Threshers dugout while wielding a bat. Thankfully, teammates were able to corral him before he reached the dugout, but the incident led to one of the easiest decisions to eject a player the umpiring crew of Sean Ryan and Alex Tosi will ever face.
It’s worth noting that this is not an incident where Soler had a bat in his hands at the time he got into an argument—he had to actually run to go get a bat from the dugout after an argument at second base.
The Florida State League suspended Soler for five games Thursday afternoon.
“There were two separate incidents, and there was really no fight,” Daytona manager Dave Keller told the Daytona News-Journal. “But because nobody was around him when he was running across the field with a bat . . . that makes things a little bit crazy.”
Soler apparently was upset because of an incident at second base where he slid into Clearwater’s Edgar Alonso. The two argued on the field before being pulled apart by other players. At that point tempers appeared to have cooled, but Soler went to the Cubs dugout, grabbed a bat and then headed towards the Clearwater dugout. According to the News-Journal’s account, Soler never swung the bat at anyone.
Soler is hitting .435/.519/.735 for Daytona in six games.
Yasiel Puig, rf, Dodgers. Because he was involved in a newsworthy event on the same day as a fellow Cuban emigree, it’s easy to make comparisons between Soler’s ejection and Yasiel Puig being pulled early last night, but they really aren’t comparable.
On the same night that Soler was being ejected for his Charge of the Bat Brigade, Puig was lifted from Double-A Chattanooga’s game against Tennessee as the Lookouts took the field defensively in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dodgers officials told Baseball America that he was pulled as a teaching moment for a mental mistake, though they wouldn’t specify what mistake led Chattanooga manager Jody Reed to make the move.
Puig did not bat in the top of the fourth inning. He had grounded out in his last at-bat in the third and ran relatively hard most of the way to first, pulling up slightly when he saw he was out.
Because Puig was the story of spring training for the Dodgers and is the team’s top prospect a year after he signed a $42 million contract, his removal from the game made the news wire, but days like Wednesday are a big part of the reason the Dodgers sent Puig back to the minors. They want to make these kind of points to Puig in the minors, not the big leagues. With just 28 pro games in the U.S. under his belt, Puig may have some more lessons to learn before he reaches Los Angeles, but that doesn’t really diminish the status of a prospect who has shown an abundance of plus tools since signing.
Being pulled from the game is about the only thing that has slowed Puig, who is hitting .467/.556/.733 in his first five games at Chattanooga. He’s got plus power, a plus hit tool and turns in 3.95-4.0 times to first base from the right side, something that seems almost unfathomable for a 245-pound outfielder.
Puig is back in the lineup for Thursday’s game.
Gerrit Cole, rhp, Pirates: Scouts love Cole’s stuff. It’s hard not to appreciate a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 100 mph, a pair of nasty breaking balls and a deceptive change. But those same scouts often follow up their professed love of Cole’s stuff with, “But I can’t explain why he gets squared up so often.”
Wednesday afternoon was one of those “but . . .” moments for Cole as he started for Triple-A Indianapolis.
His final line doesn’t look all that bad—four hits, one run, two walks, five strikeouts—but it’s the number of innings that’s the problem. He was done after the second.
In his first start of the season, Cole was lifted after four innings because of a Pirates organizational rule that mandates that any pitcher who throws 30 pitches in an inning cannot begin the next frame. It took Cole 31 pitches to get through the fourth that day.
Cole had the same problem with deep counts on Wednesday even after the Pirates gave him a second chance.
Cole needed 32 pitches to get through a scoreless first inning on Wednesday, but the Indianapolis coaching staff found a little wiggle room in the rule and let Cole go back out for the second. He didn’t exactly take advantage of the reprieve, giving up a leadoff home run to Jordan Lennerton, followed by a double to Danny Worth. Cole recovered to strike out the next two batters, but then walked Quintin Berry. He still could have gotten out of the inning in less than 30 pitches, but on a Gustavo Nunez groundball to first baseman Matt Hague, Cole was extremely late in leaving the mound to cover first base. Nunez was safe for a single to load the bases.
It took Cole six more pitches to strike out Nick Castellanos to end the inning, but by then it was a 31-pitch inning, and his second in a row topping the 30 threshold. In fact, Cole has topped 30 pitches in three of the six innings he’s thrown this season.
Cole’s problem on Wednesday was related to his fastball command. In the second inning, he left a couple of fastballs up and found that those mistakes get punished in Triple-A. But he also was a victim of a lot of deep counts where hitters kept fouling off pitches. Of the 63 pitches Cole threw, Toledo hitters fouled off 20 of them. Berry fouled off seven pitches alone in two at-bats against Cole.
[Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2:45 p.m. ET.]