The Chicago Cubs are again set to showcase a prospect they hope will play a prominent role in their future.
Highly touted slugger Jorge Soler is expected to make his major league debut Wednesday night when the visiting Cubs try to match a season high with their fifth consecutive victory against the Cincinnati Reds.
With starter Kyle Hendricks, outfielder Arismendy Alcantara and infielder Javier Baez all having enjoyed various levels of success since making their big-league debuts for Chicago (59-72) this season, the 22-year-old Soler provides another glimpse of the rebuilding franchise’s potentially bright future.
"We’re starting to see that light at the end of the tunnel," All-Star Anthony Rizzo, who hit his 30th homer in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Cincinnati, told MLB’s official website.
"There’s always an expectation to win, but with these guys coming up, they’re going to be patient and let them develop and get their at-bats in, but at the same time, we want to win, too."
Considered among the club’s top prospects alongside the 21-year-old Baez, the Cuban-born Soler hit .340 with 15 homers and 57 RBIs while posting an on-base percentage of .432 and slugging .700 in 62 games playing in Double-A, Triple-A and the rookie league this year.
"It’s pretty exciting for the whole organization," manager Rick Renteria said. "It’s a young man that has been talked about a whole lot. I’m sure the organization would like to get him up here, get his feet wet."
Soler is likely to be in right field next to Alcantara, who has homered in two straight games and is 6 for 11 with three RBIs in the last three.
Though the Cubs scored all their runs and recorded seven hits in 6 1-3 innings off Cincinnati ace Johnny Cueto on Tuesday, they face another serious challenge against Mat Latos (4-3, 2.99 ERA).
The right-hander allowed a run in seven innings of a 4-1 win at Wrigley Field on June 25 to improve to 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last seven starts against the Cubs.
Latos has been nearly as dominant in August, going 2-0 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts. He overcame nine hits to limit Atlanta to a run over six innings of a 3-1, 12-inning loss Friday.
The Reds (63-69) were shut out for the 12th time Tuesday and have lost eight of 10. Todd Frazier had one of those hits and is 3 for 8 in two games after going 1 for 14 in his previous four contests.
Frazier is 3 for 5 with a double against Jacob Turner (4-7, 5.77), who makes his first start since Chicago acquired him from Miami on Aug. 8.
The right-hander, who allowed one run and three hits in 4 1-3 innings of two relief appearances for Chicago, is 4-5 with a 6.03 ERA in 12 starts this season. He gave up five runs and nine hits in four innings of a 7-3 loss to the Reds in his most recent start Aug. 3.
Rizzo is batting .347 with seven homers in 14 games against the Reds this season, but it’s uncertain if he will play after leaving late Tuesday with lower back tightness.