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Soler, Geiger tee off for D-Cubs

Pair combines to go 14-for-18 in doubleheader sweep
May 17, 2013

A few timely hits from the heart of a batting order can go a long way. In a doubleheader Friday, Daytona's Jorge Soler and Dustin Geiger threw timely out the window, instead going with a more abundant approach.

The duo combined to go 14-for-18 with seven extra-base hits, six RBIs and seven runs scored to help Class A Advanced Daytona sweep of a pair of games from Lakeland. The Cubs took the opener, 5-1, then outlasted the Flying Tigers, 7-4, in 12 innings.

Both players went 4-for-4 in Game 1, with Soler -- the Cubs' No. 3 prospect -- connecting for his sixth homer of the season and Geiger collecting three doubles and a triple.

In Game 2, Soler was 3-for-6 with a double, lifting his average to .297. Geiger went 3-for-4 with another double and two walks, finishing up an evening in which he reached base nine times.

"I can't recall doing that before," Geiger said. "Maybe back in like 13- or 14-year-old travel days. It's definitely a highlight in my career."

Over his past three games, Geiger is 10-for-13 with eight extra-base hits. On Friday, he raised his batting average 33 points to .331 and brought his OPS from .800 to .902.

The outburst is just the latest for Geiger, who is having something of a breakout season. Selected out of Merritt Island (Fla.) High School in the 24th round of the 2010 Draft, the corner infielder dominated the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2011 before struggling at Class A Peoria. He returned to the Midwest League last year, finding mixed results with a .767 OPS.

"I'm a corner infield guy, which means I'm supposed to hit for power," Geiger said. "I was chasing pitches and striking out too much last year."

He went to Spring Training this season aiming to adjust his approach, working extensively with Double-A hitting coach Desi Wilson.

"I'm just really trying to look for different pitches in different counts," Geiger said. "I don't want to give away too many secrets, but I'm just trying to keep everything simple at the plate, not try to do too much."

More recently, Geiger has worked to smooth his pre-swing leg kick, hoping to make it easier to maintain his timing.

"Anytime a guy has a leg kick, timing becomes a huge factor that you have to stay on top of," Daytona manager Dave Keller said. "You have to stay soft and low and be very, very relaxed because the pitchers, they go to the plate at different times and their moves are all different and everything else that can mess up your timing, which is probably the most important thing about hitting.

"He's found a way to slow himself down more than anything. He's slowing his mind down and slowing his mechanics down and when you can do that, the ball looks slower. And I think that's what he's going through right now."

Soler, meanwhile, has continued to find success in his first full professional season. The 21-year-old outfielder was 7-for-10 with a homer and a double in the doubleheader, raising his OPS to .908, which ranks eighth in the Florida State League -- one spot ahead of Geiger.

"[Jorge] has shown me that his patience is above average for this level," Keller said. "He doesn't chase a whole lot of pitches out of the strike zone. He's always getting a good pitch to hit. We're just trying to continually reinforce to him that he needs to use the whole field."

The off-field adjustments are every bit as key for Soler at this stage. The Cuba native is still adjusting to life in the United States since signing a nine-year, $30 million deal with the Cubs last June.

He's taken some bumps along the way, like when he was ejected for approaching an opposing dugout with a bat. Despite that episode, Soler's been a welcome presence in Daytona's clubhouse.

"He's an awesome guy," Geiger said. "He's always smiling, gives off a good energy in the locker room."

Soler's making progress with the language, too.

"During Spring Training, he didn't understand much English, so I tried to talk to him slow in English," Keller said. "He knows I speak Spanish. All the Latin kids know I'm bilingual, so it's easy for them to speak Spanish with me when they want, but that doesn't help them.

"He's warming up to the whole atmosphere well. It's really nice to see."

Jake Seiner is a contributor to Follow him on Twitter at @Jake_Seiner.