The Cubs continue to press the accelerator down on their grand plan.
The latest example came late Monday when they got set to call up outfielder Jorge Soler from Class AAA Iowa. The 22-year-old Soler is expected to make his major-league debut in Wednesday night's game against the Reds in Cincinnati.
Soler was a likely September call-up, but the Cubs decided to move up his timetable, as they did earlier this month with infielder Javier Baez.
The Cubs signed Soler, a native of Havana, Cuba, to a nine-year, $30 million major-league contract on June 30, 2012. Nagging leg injuries have held down his at-bats in the minor leagues, but he has come on of late at Iowa.
In his final game for the I-Cubs on Monday night at Tacoma, he hit a 3-run homer before being lifted from the game for his call-up to the big club.
In 32 games at Iowa, Soler had a line of .278/.378/.618 with 8 homers and 29 RBI. He began the season at Class AA Tennessee, where he went .415/.494/.862 with 6 homers and 22 RBI. While rehabbing a hamstring injury with the Cubs' Rookie League club in Mesa (Arizona), Soler hit 1 homer.
"It's pretty exciting for the whole organization," Cubs manager Rick Renteria told reporters before Tuesday night's game. "A young man that has been talked about quite a bit … the teammates are excited about it.
"I'm sure that the organization feels that he's been moving along and that they'd like to get him up here to start experiencing some big-league baseball and kind of get his feet wet and chip away and see how he goes."
Renteria told reporters he expects Soler to bat fifth or sixth in the Cubs' order Wednesday and play right field.
Soler is the latest of the Cubs' so-called core players to get a call-up. Established core players Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo made the National League all-star team this year. Baez has shown prodigious power, even as he has struck out a lot, in his short time with the Cubs.
Also key young players getting call-ups this year were infielder-outfielder Arismendy Alcantara and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
When team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer took over in the fall of 2011, their plan was to build a strong farm system while trying to piece together major-league teams.
The 2012 and 2013 Cubs were big losers on the field, and nothing more was expected this year. The Cubs got off to a slow start, but they entered Tuesday having won 17 of their last 30 games.
Still down on the farm at Iowa and no-doubt major-league ready is third-base prospect Kris Bryant, who entered Tuesday with 43 homers between Tennessee and Iowa. However, the Cubs have said repeatedly they will not bring Bryant to the big leagues this year.
The Cubs obtained shortstop Addison Russell in the Fourth of July trade with Oakland for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Russell entered Tuesday with 12 homers at Tennessee since the trade.
In the June amateur draft, the Cubs took catcher-outfielder Kyle Schwarber out of Indiana University. With three minor-league teams, including the Kane County Cougars, Schwarber had a line of .352/.440/.664 with 18 homers and 53 RBI in 68 games through Monday.