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updated: 7/23/2014 11:39 PM

Major happenings in the Cubs minors

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  • Cubs relief pitcher James Russell delivers against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago.

      Cubs relief pitcher James Russell delivers against the San Diego Padres during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Cubs' Welington Castillo is safe at second on a double as San Diego Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista loses the ball during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago.

      Cubs' Welington Castillo is safe at second on a double as San Diego Padres shortstop Alexi Amarista loses the ball during the fifth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago.
    Associated Press

  • Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena hits a three-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

      Chicago Cubs' Luis Valbuena hits a three-run home run against the San Diego Padres during the fourth inning of a baseball game on Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

 
 

With a few exceptions, it's not always easy to look at what's going on with the Cubs at the big-league level.

But with what's going on in the minor leagues, you look away at your own risk. There's that much going on.

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Late night Tuesday, the Cubs made a couple of key promotions, moving outfielder Jorge Soler from Class AA Tennessee to Class AAA Iowa and center fielder Albert Almora from Daytona (A) to Tennessee.

The moves have some big-time implications, which team President Theo Epstein talked about before Wednesday night's 8-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field.

What's clear is that the prospects are bubbling up through the system and perhaps Soler might be here sometime this year to join infielder-outfielder Arismendy Alcantara. Soler already is on the 40-man roster, so a call-up is easier to make than for someone not on the roster.

"With Soler, we talked about the fact that he really looked like he was on a mission," Epstein said. "He came off the DL (leg injury) without missing a beat, really. It was remarkable for him to not show any signs of rust. In fact, the opposite. He said, 'Now is my time.' He just went out and made a statement."

Soler entered Wednesday 27-for-65 (.415) with an on-base percentage of .494 and 6 homers for Tennessee. Almora got off to a slow start at Daytona, but he rebounded to finish with a line of .283/.306/.406 with 20 doubles, 2 triples, 7 homers and 50 RBI.

"We've been walking a fine line with Albert where, much like with Starlin (Castro), we asked him to just focus on being aggressive on pitches you can drive instead of just being aggressive for the sake of being aggressive," Epstein said. "We feel like this is the best challenge for him to write a different story for his 2014 season."

Building a farm system is the route the Cubs under Epstein have taken to what they hope is eventual success at the big-league level. Epstein couldn't help but take a jab at the St. Louis Cardinals, who were awarded the third pick in the "competitive-balance" round of next year's draft. The two competitive-balance rounds were created for teams in the 10 smallest markets and the 10 franchises that had the lowest revenues. The Cardinals are the defending National League champions.

"I could talk all day about the Cardinals and how much we hold them in high regard," Epstein said. "That's a fantastic franchise. They have been for the better part of a century. They do extremely well from a baseball standpoint and from a revenue standpoint. It's probably the last organization in baseball that needs that kind of gift or annual gift that they receive.

"So it'll just make it that much sweeter when we get to a point where we can compete with them and ultimately prevail because it's not necessarily the kind of thing they need given their performance on the field and off the field. They've done a fantastic job, and it doesn't seem like something they need at this point."

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