Cubs’ minor league All-Stars Part 4: Albert Almora and Jorge Soler miss the cut

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In the final installment of our 2013 Chicago Cubs’ minor league All-Star team, we select three outfielders and identify several others who deserve honorable mention, including the two best outfielders in the system who did not qualify because of injury-shortened seasons.

All three of our All-Star outfielders were culled from the Sothern League (SL) AA Tennessee Smokies, who produced a regular season record of  76-62 before losing a first-round playoff series in a deciding game five.  The right-handed hitting and throwing John Andreoli, 23, split the campaign between the Florida State League (FSL) Champion Daytona Cubs and Tennessee.  In 529 plate appearances between the two levels, Andreoli batted .305 with a .379 OBP and .402 slugging percentage.  He scored 74 runs, cranked out 24 doubles and eight triples, drove in 44 runs, drew 55 walks and swiped an organization high 40 bases while only being caught five times.  Andreoli’s 74 runs scored would have ranked third in the FSL and seventh in the SL; eight triples third in the FSL and tied for fifth in the SL; 40 stolen bases second in both leagues; 55 walks ninth in the FSL; .305 average third in both leagues; and .379 OBP fifth in both leagues.
Right-handed hitting and throwing Matt Szczur completed his first full season at Tennessee.  In 574 plate appearances, the majority of which came as the Smokies’ leadoff hitter, Szczur, 23, batted .281 with a .350 OBP and .367 slugging percentage.  He added 27 doubles, four triples, three home runs, 44 RBI, 78 runs scored, fifty walks and 22 stolen bases in 34 attempts.  He was third in the league in runs, ninth in doubles and tied for seventh in batting average.
Right-handed hitting and throwing Rubi Silva also spent his first full season at Tennessee.  In 490 plate appearances, Silva, 24, batted .284 with a .310 OBP and .483 slugging percentage.  He tallied 56 runs and produced 30 doubles, nine triples, fifteen home runs, 52 RBI and thirteen stolen bases in 20 attempts.  Silva was tied for third in the league in doubles, tied for second in triples, tied for tenth in home runs, was sixth in batting average and placed third in slugging percentage.
Unfortunately, the two best outfielders in the Cubs’ system, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora, also among the best prospects in all of baseball, were excluded from our All-Star roster because they did not have a sufficient number of plate appearances to qualify due to injuries shortening their seasons.
Right-handed hitting Soler suffered a stress fracture in his left tibia in June, but not before he appeared for Daytona in the FSL All-Star Game.  In 236 plate appearances prior to the injury and in his first full season in the Cubs’ system, Soler batted .281, slugged .467 and produced an OBP of .343.  He added 38 runs, thirteen doubles, eight home runs, 35 RBI, 21 walks and five stolen bases in six attempts.  Soler was on the same trajectory as Cubs’ minor league Player Of the Year, Javier Baez, before his injury and likely would have ended the season in Tennessee as Beaz’s teammate.  He is one of eight Cubs’ minor leaguers who have been selected to represent the organization in the Arizona Fall League starting October 8 and is still considered the Cubs’ long term answer in right field.
Right-handed hitting Almora’s season for A Kane County was interrupted by a slew of injuries.  He still managed 272 plate appearances in which he batted .329 with a .376 OBP and .466 slugging percentage.  He contributed 39 runs, seventeen doubles, four triples, 23 RBI and seventeen walks.  Almora, 19, is still considered the Cubs’ long term answer in center field and also will be representing the Cubs in the Arizona Fall League.
Two other Cubs’ minor league outfielders who deserve honorable mention are Zeke DeVoss and Kevin Encarnacion.  Right-handed hitting DeVoss, 23, spent the entire season with FSL champion Daytona.  In 528 plate appearances, he belted seventeen doubles, five triples and six home runs, drove in 51 runs despite batting leadoff most of the season and scored 71 runs.  He also swiped 39 bases in 49 attempts.  He batted .246 with a .393 OBP  and .354 slugging percentage.  He finished fist in the league in walks, second in stolen bases and third in OBP.
Switching-hitting Encarnacion, 21, dominated the short-season Northwest League for the Boise Hawks, who lost the league championship series.  In 188 plate appearances, he batted .355, slugged .566 and generated an OBP of .431.  He scored 34 runs, belted nine doubles, one triple and eight homers, drove in 34 runs, stole ten bases in fifteen attempts and walked 21 times.  He tied for second in the league in home runs and OBP and lead the league in batting average and slugging percentage.  Encarnacion was briefly promoted to A Kane County, where he struggled but where we expect him to play next season.
Thank you for following our Cubs minor league All-Star piece and regular Cubs’ coverage this season.  With the Bears’ season now afoot and the Bulls’ season quickly approaching, we will be tapering back on our Cubs’ coverage some and devoting more ink to the Bears and Bulls.  Of course, we will still keep you posted on significant developments the rest of the Cubs’ season and offseason, when we look forward to discussing player transactions.
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