Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Soto Hoping to Bounce Back

Among the many Cub hitters hoping to return to form after a down season is young catcher Geovany Soto. The right handed hitting Soto saw a climb in his average in 2010 after a terrible sophomore slump in '09, but his season ended early due to an injury. A right shoulder issue cost Geo a 15-day trip to the DL in August and then the rest of his season when he underwent surgery in November.

Soto hit .280 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs last season. After hitting fifth in 2009, he spent most of 2010 in the bottom part of the batting order. If he can stay healthy most of the season, Soto should match his numbers from his Rookie of the Year 2008 season, when he hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 runs batted in.

The Cubs backstop saw a huge dip in his production in 2009, when he hit just .219. Geo's defense is solid, but he has trouble throwing out runners that try to steal. He caught just 22% of men that attempted to run on him last season, and that number is expected to become even smaller after his surgery. Soto is an underrated piece to the 2011 Chicago Cubs.

His success is just as critical as that of Pena, Soriano and Ramirez. If the Cubs can get bounce back years from at least three of those four sluggers, they will have a chance to compete in the Central. They also need Marlon Byrd, Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin to continue to provide stability to the lineup. The starting eight that Mike Quade will run out there on a daily basis has a lot of potential, but there are also a lot of question marks.

Geovany lost 20 pounds prior to the start of 2010 and has done a good job keeping the weight off. If it weren't for the injury, his number last season would have been better than his 2008 stats. Entering his fourth full season as a big leaguer, Soto has only had one down season. He could be a better bet to produce than veterans like Ramirez and Soriano. Geo could become a mainstay in the Cubs middle of the order. He is expected to hit seventh to start the season, but he could move up to fifth if he hits well to start the season.

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