MESA, Ariz. -- The crack of a bat sounded at Hohokam Stadium as Jorge Soler hit a three-run, line-drive double to center field Wednesday in his second Arizona Fall League game.
The Cubs outfield prospect has been waiting months to hear that noise in a game.
Soler played in just 55 games for Class A Daytona before he was sidelined with a stress fracture in his left tibia in mid-June. He was forced to wear a boot during his recovery and sat out Daytona's run to the Florida State League championship.
It was not the way the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Cuban expected to spend his second season after signing a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs. He said through teammate and interpreter Albert Almora that he is unhappy the injury slowed his ascension and has been somewhat hesitant in testing out his newly healed leg.
"You always want to get your 500 at-bats," Soler said. "You take away a good 220-something at-bats, it's always going to have some impact. I haven't been running like I know I could because I have to get back into that."
Soler hit .281 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs before the injury. He went 1-for-5 with two runs and three RBIs as the designated hitter Wednesday in a stellar showing for Cubs prospects in Mesa's 13-3 victory over Glendale.
Third baseman Kris Bryant hit a three-run home run, and Almora, playing in his first game since recovering from a groin injury, went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. Cubs taxi squad player Wes Darvill added a two-run homer.
Much attention is likely to be paid this month to the trio of highly ranked Cubs prospects. Almora is ranked the second-best prospect in the organization by MLB.com, Soler is third and Bryant is fourth.
"I want to get better in my offensive and defensive game but mostly recognize different pitches in different situations when I'm hitting," Soler said of his time in the fall league. "I don't really feel pressure. I just go out there and play as hard as I can and let my talent do the talking."
No manager worries: Though it could affect them one day, Bryant and Almora said they try not to pay attention to the Cubs' major league manager search.
"If we're focusing on that kind of stuff, it's a little bit of a distraction because we don't control those things," said Bryant, who met former manager Dale Sveum for batting practice when he signed with the Cubs. "The only thing we control is going out on the field and playing baseball. ... Whoever we get, I'm sure they'll do a great job."
Super season: Since the Cubs drafted him second overall in June, Bryant said he has had "the best summer of my life," which includes hitting .336 in 36 games for three minor league teams.
He continued the good times in the first two games of the fall league, going 5-for-9 with five RBIs. Aside from higher-caliber players, he said the biggest adjustment from college to pro life has been the added downtime without schoolwork, which he has occupied by learning to play guitar.
"If you're focusing on baseball all the time, you'll go crazy," Bryant said. "You need to realize it's a game and we're here to have fun but also play as hard as we can and win.
"When I'm on the field, I'm thinking about baseball, but when I'm off the field, I'm trying to do some fun stuff to take my mind off it a little bit."
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