Soler Starts With a Bang

Soler posing at Beloit Aug 12, 2012. (Paul Gierhart)

Soler posing at Beloit Aug 12, 2012. (Paul Gierhart)

We didn’t get to know Jorge Soler all that well in 2012, as the then 20-year-old, joined the Peoria Chiefs on August 10 and played in just 20 games. However he made quite the impact on those who saw him play with a .338 average, three homers, five doubles and 15 RBI in those 20 games. He also stole four bases and drew six walks to just six strikeouts. Injured off and on over the two years since, Soler made his MLB debut last night (162nd former Chief in the Majors) for the Cubs, exactly two years after playing in his 14th Midwest League game. In his first at-bat, he did this:

Wow.

We saw the power with the Chiefs and while they all came on the road, fortunately all three of his Peoria home runs are on YouTube. The first is from my account and includes my Chiefs Radio Network call. The other two are fan videos from Wisconsin and Kane County (Go to 1:45, ball clears the LF deck and lands in the trees):

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As for Chiefs in MLB history, Soler is the 7th former Chiefs player to homer in his first at game:

  • Hector Villanueva: June 1, 1990 off Ken Dayley at Busch Stadium in his 2nd AB after pinch hitting.
  • Alex Cabrera: June 26, 2000 off Yorkis Perez (Hou) in Arizona as a pinch hitter in first MLB At-Bat.
  • Keith McDonald: July 4, 2000 off Andy Larkin (Cin) at Busch Stadium as a pinch hitter in first MLB At-Bat
  • Eliezer Alfonzo: June 3, 2006 off Orlando Hernandez at Shea Stadium in his 3rd at-bat
  • Brandon Guyer: May 6, 2011 off Zach Britton at Camden Yards in 1st at-bat
  • Javier Baez: August 5 off Boone Logan at Coors Field in 6th at-bat (12th inning game winner)
  • Jorge Soler: August 27 off Mat Latos in Cincinnati in 1st at-bat

Two other Chiefs have homered in their first MLB at-bats but not in their first game*. Both are pitchers:

  • Gene Stechschulte: April 17, 2001 off Armando Reynoso (Ari) at Busch Stadium as a pinch-hitter in the 6th inning of a 17-4 Cardinals loss. The homer was in his 26th MLB appearance in his 2nd MLB season. He didn’t even pitch in the game, just batted for Mike James with St. Louis down 15-1.
  • Mark Worrell: June 5, 2008 off Tim Redding at Nationals Park. Homered in his 2nd MLB game as a reliever, a 2-run homer in the 6th inning of a 10-9, 10-inning loss. Another former Chief, Joe Mather his his 1st MLB home run in the 10th inning of this game as well.

*Thanks to both Dave Eminian and Kevin Capie of the Peoria Journal Star for providing Associated Press information on the above lists.

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