Jorge Soler had a few days to get ready for Thursday's game, and while he's not at full speed just yet, he's still turning heads.
"I feel really good," the No. 3 Cubs prospect laughed, "I haven't had three hits in a long time."
May 17, to be exact, was his last three-hit effort. Soler appeared in just 55 games this season in the Minors due to injury, but he's swinging the bat in the Arizona Fall League like he's in midseason form. The outfielder went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Angels slugger C.J. Cron hit his third home run to lift the Mesa Solar Sox over the visiting Scottsdale Scorpions, 7-4, on Thursday.
"I feel good," said Soler, who was sidelined in June with stress fracture in his left shin he suffered from a foul ball. "They told me to rest and I got back at it today."
Soler hit a two-run single in the first that plated Brian Goodwin (Nationals) and Devon Travis (Tigers), singled and scored on Addison Russell's sacrifice fly in the third and laced another base hit in the fourth as Mesa (9-4) climbed out to a 7-1 lead against Scottsdale starter Phil Irwin. He hadn't played since Oct. 19.
He has hit in all eight of his AFL games -- in 39 at-bats, he's batting .282 with three doubles, seven RBIs and six runs scored. Still, he's not quite feeling his best.
"Physically, I'm still not at 110 percent because it feels like I don't have enough strength in my legs," he said through interpretor and fellow Cubs prospect, Albert Almora. "I'm working hard every day to get stronger."
Soler got just 210 at-bats with Class A Advanced Daytona this season, finishing up at .281 with eight homers, 35 RBIs, five steals and a .343 on-base percentage in his first full season. His campaign got off to a rocky start after he was briefly suspended for an on-field scuffle.
"[I want] to keep hitting well and to see better pitching and to get better at hitting in general from the Fall League," he said. "And I want to finish the year and be 110 percent from the injuries."
Cron, the Angels' No. 2 prospect, homered in the third off Irwin, a solo drive to left that led off the inning and sparked a three-run rally. The Mesa cleanup man, who also singled twice, is batting .385 with nine RBIs in nine games after hitting .274 with 14 homers and 83 RBIs in 134 games with Double-A Arkansas this season.
Soler, who signed with the Cubs out of Cuba, is one of several top Chicago prospects in Mesa, joining Kris Bryant and Almora. Although neither played Thursday, both are off to huge starts -- Bryant is 15-for-37 (.405) with four homers and 13 RBIs in nine starts while Almora is 11-for-29 (.379) with a homer and nine RBIs in seven games.
Mesa starter Dallas Beeler (2-0) picked up the win after holding Scottsdale to a pair of runs on four hits over four innings. The Cubs righty struck out two before Corey Knebel (Tigers) pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.
Irwin (0-1) was charged with six runs on six hits and three walks in 2 1/3 innings. The Pirates right-hander struck out three, throwing 31 of his 51 pitches for strikes in his second start. Alen Hanson, the Pirates' No. 3 prospect, hit his frst homer in the first -- a two-run shot off Beeler -- and Tommy La Stella (Braves) added a solo drive in the sixth, his first for Scottsdale.