Baseball America’s John Manuel had this to say about Soler, courtesy of google and Metsblog.com:
“It’s kind of hard to say because the guy hasn’t faced live batters living away from a Latin American culture and nation. How Soler pitches might be affected by how he adjusts to being in the U.S., and he hasn’t been yet. The reports on him always have been interesting–90-95 mph fastball, very good slider, good power combo for the bullpen. Expecting him to contribute in New York in 2006 is too much. Jose Contreras was a super stud in Cuba, considered a lot better than anyone else who had defected, and it took him three years to get acclimated. Only El Duque and Livan Hernandez really adjusted fairly quickly to pitching in the U.S. among Cuban defectors that I can recall.”…
And here’s a Mets.com article about Soler… with some pluses and minuses:
“I’m not worried about it,” said Soler, who went 10-4 with a 2.01 ERA in 125 1/3 innings for Pinar Del Rio of the Cuban League in 2003, striking out 102 and walking only 17.
Soler expects to arrive in St. Lucie sometime in late January, three weeks ahead of report time for Spring Training. He wants to continue working out and not lose any of the ground he has gained by pitching in Puerto Rico.
“It’s too bad because the young guys can’t come here and show everyone what they have,” said Soler, whose repertoire includes a fastball, sinker, slider, changeup and occasional knuckleball.
I also was at a website where these Cuban-Americans were keeping track of their countrymen’s performances, and found a link to a picture of Soler. He reminds me of someone, but I can’t remember who.
You know, I am actually a believer in scouting more than most people. Scouting and statistical evaluation should be hand in hand instead of diametrically opposed, and the first front office to truly figure that out will probably kick serious ass.
That being said, all that we typical fans really have to look at, other than on the field performance in the regular season, are stats. Even watching on TV can be extremely misleading. Watching in person can be misleading as well unless youre one of the fortunate few who can attend 40+ games from good seats.
I’m honestly not that impressed when the Mets minor league pitching instructor raves about Soler. What is the guy going to say, he sucks? If anyone can find me some Sickels, or someone else, who is equally high on Soler, I’ll be much more comfortable mentioning him in the same breath as Bannister and Pelfrey.
For now though, those are the facts. I’m certainly hoping he’ll be great, but there are a looooot of negative things against him right now, not the least of which is a transition to a new country with a new language, in a game he hasn’t played since 2004.