- Full name Ramon Soler
Organization Prospect Rankings
After missing the entire 2000 season with a separated right shoulder that required surgery, Soler battled more arm problems last year before showing signs of returning to full strength during instructional league. Converted from shortstop to second base in 2001, he has the tools to be outstanding at his new position. He has soft hands, excellent range and the ability to make plays to both sides. The Rays also believe Soler has made solid strides with his hitting ability. A switch-hitter, he continues to add strength that allows him to spray the ball to all fields. His plate discipline is good, and he tries to draw walks in order to employ his plus speed on the bases. He ranked third in the system in stolen bases last year. Because of his shoulder injury and his youth, Soler doesn't have extensive professional experience. But he might be ready for a breakthrough season in Double-A.
Soler’s 2000 season ended before it started when he separated his shoulder while sliding into home plate during spring training. Surgery and rehabilitation cost him the entire year. He was able to participate in instructional league and is expected to be at full strength for spring training. Soler is a switch-hitter with outstanding speed. Nicknamed “The Jet,” he runs the 60-yard dash in 6.38 seconds and knows how to steal bases. He sprays the ball to all fields and has leadoff tools, though his career average as a pro is a mere .242. He understands the importance of taking a walk, so there’s hope that he’ll be able to hit. His hands are soft and consistent, and his range is above-average. Soler’s arm is only average at shortstop, one reason the Devil Rays had him spend some time at second base during instructional league. He’s still a teenager, which means his greatest need at this point is to play everyday regardless of where he lands in 2001. Considering he has yet to put together a strong offensive campaign, Soler could begin the year in low Class A.
Background: Soler was signed by the Devil Rays shortly after his 16th birthday in 1997 and was one of the youngest players in professional baseball in 1998. A switch-hitter, Soler led the Gulf Coast League Devil Rays in at-bats, runs, triples, walks and stolen bases. Strengths: Despite Soler's great tools, including 6.3 speed in the 60 and "Vizquel-like" hands, the Devil Rays save their greatest enthusiasm for their young shortstop's energy and love for the game. He has the instincts at the plate to be an ideal leadoff hitter and the maturity to succeed playing against significantly older players. Weaknesses: Soler's arm is just average at present but is projected to improve as he gets older and stronger. His lack of power won't be a problem because Soler already plays the little man's game he will need as a leadoff hitter. The Future: Being so young, Soler can only move so quickly, but even advancing step-by-step, he could reach Tampa Bay as a 20-year-old.