The Cubs have put all of the eggs in 25-year old Geovany Soto’s basket for the 2008 season. Soto was excellent in his brief taste of the majors last season. He played in 18 games for the Cubs last season and he was 21 for 54 (.389 avg, 1.100 OPS) with 12 runs scored, 3 homers and 8 RBIs. Soto was incredible in AAA ball in 2007 as he played in 110 games and was 136 for 385 (.353 avg, 1.076 OPS) with 75 runs scored, 26 homers and 109 RBIs. Soto is also a solid defender as he threw out 29% of the runners trying to steal on him last season and Cubs pitchers had a 3.61 ERA last season with him behind the plate. Look for him to be one of the best rookies in the National League this season.
36-year old righty swinging Henry Blanco will be the backup next season as long as he’s healthy. He only played in 22 games for the Cubs last season and he was 9 for 54 (.167 avg, .415 OPS) with 3 runs scored and 4 RBIs. Blanco only threw out 20% of the runners trying to steal on him last season but he’s better than that. Cubs pitchers had a 4.79 ERA with him behind the plate which isn’t too good considering how well the Cubs pitchers looked last season.
29-year old switch-hitting Koyie Hill would likely make the roster if Blanco isn’t healthy enough to play this season. He played in 36 games for the Cubs last season and he was 15 for 93 (.161 avg, .500 OPS) with 7 runs scored, 2 homers and 12 RBIs. Hill is an outstanding defender however as he nailed 29% of the runners trying to steal against him last season and Cubs pitchers had a 2.98 ERA with him behind the plate.
28-year old switch-hitter J.D. Closser last played in the majors in 2006 but he is a better hitter than either Henry Blanco or Koyie Hill so he has a outside shot of making the Cubs roster. He has played in 160 games in his major league career and he is 107 for 447 (.239 avg, .687 OPS) with 46 runs scored, 10 homers and 48 RBIs.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE 2008 SEASON: B