Baltimore Orioles vs Kansas City Royals: 5 players to watch
By Sam Belden
Jorge Soler, RF
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At just 26 years old, Soler has already had a roller coaster of a professional career. After undergoing a brutal transformation from a can’t-miss prospect to a Quad-A afterthought, the Cuban outfielder has returned to the majors with a vengeance, slashing .308/.425/.510 through 30 games.
His right field defense remains a work in progress, but at 11-2, the hapless Royals can tolerate some growing pains. Soler still has time to master the position, especially after dropping 20 pounds over the offseason.
In fact, after posting an anemic .144/.245/.258 in 35 games last year, Soler spent the entire winter trying to improve. Thanks to his work with Mike Tosar, an international scout for the Dodgers as well as his personal coach, he made some important adjustments to his approach at the plate. Per Maria Torres of the Kansas City Star:
"Tosar encouraged Soler to depend on sight. It seemed like a simple message, but Soler had been told countless times already to stay back. He’d still load early and his swing would always be too long. But the way Tosar described the concept — “Use your eyes to stay back, use your eyes to get behind the baseball” — was the clearest explanation Soler had ever received. Now Soler bears down on his back foot more, taking his stance a bit off-center to see the pitch on a level that’s more even with his gaze. His depth perception is better than it’s ever been. Ideally, he’ll have a higher success rate on pitches thrown inside now that his barrel is quicker to the ball."
Little adjustments like these are what send promising prospects into the stratosphere. Soler has yet to show a marked improvement on balls thrown inside, but if he does manage to put it all together, expect his torrid slash line to stay in place.
Soler has logged just 12 career plate appearances against the Birds, but he has a .700 slugging percentage to show for it. If the Orioles pitching staff can shrink those numbers this week, it will go a long toward subduing one of Kansas City’s biggest offensive threats.
Next: The top 5 home run hitters in Orioles history
Will the Birds get back on the right track against the Royals this week? Let us know on social media, and keep it here at Birds Watcher for more updates on the Baltimore Orioles.