Once again, the Cubs felt the time was right to promote one of their top prospects.
As far as the organization accelerating it's overall plan, team president Theo Epstein gently applied his foot to the brake.
The Cubs officially recalled outfielder Jorge Soler from Class AAA Iowa on Wednesday and put him into the staring lineup in right field for the night game at Cincinnati.
"I am so excited," Soler told reporters through an interpreter. Soler then went out and homered in his first at-bat with the big club. "I thank the team for giving me this opportunity. I have been waiting three years for this moment."
Soler's promotion comes less than a month after the Cubs recalled infielder Javier Baez from Iowa.
Although Soler has missed time in his short professional career because of nagging leg injuries, the Cubs felt he was ready and that now is the right time. The Cubs signed him to a nine-year, $30 million major-league contract in June 2012.
"We're proud of him," said team president Theo Epstein. "I think this is the right time to bring him up here. Really, the key to the decision to promoting Soler was that he was going to be a September call-up for us mainly because he needed the at-bats.
"He missed significant time with the hamstring injury, and he's someone that needs to play, needs to get the at-bats. This is the best place for him to continue to learn, continue to get at-bats, continue to make adjustments."
Between Iowa and Class AA Tennessee this year, Soler hit 14 home runs and drove in 51 in 55 games. He also hit 1 homer while rehabbing a hamstring injury while playing for the Cubs' Rookie League team in Arizona.
Soler joins a Cubs team that includes not only Baez, but young veterans Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, both considered part of the Cubs' so-called core. Other young prospects who made the jump from the minor leagues to the major leagues this season are infielder-outfielder Arismendy Alcantara and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
No doubt third-base prospect Kris Bryant is major-league-ready at Iowa, but the Cubs repeatedly have said Bryant will not get a September call-up. Shortstop Addison Russell, acquired in the Fourth of July trade with the Athletics that sent pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland, also is considered a fast-tracker.
The Cubs have played good baseball at the major-league level lately, and Baez and Soler no doubt are up earlier than expected. However, Epstein wouldn't go as far as saying the grand plan has been accelerated.
"No, I don't think anything is accelerated," he said. "I think it's been a really great developmental year for the organization. If you look at some of our priorities in the big leagues, with Rizzo's continued development to one of the best first basemen in the game, to trying to get Castro back on track and the resurgence that he's now had, that's gone well at the big-league level as well as many other success stories in the big leagues.
"It's been one of those years where, not all of our prospects, but many of our prospects, have had outstanding developmental seasons whether it's been pure outstanding performance as advancing through the system or whether it's been prospects who have faced some adversity, they haven't backed down and have made the necessary adjustments and have learned a lot from the struggles that they've had."
In other words, according to Epstein, the perception that things have sped up is an external one.
"I do get the sense that now that a few of our higher-profile prospects are getting to the big leagues, there is sort of more recognition, I guess recognition in bigger circles of some of the good things that are happening in the organization," he said. "Now that people are taking notice, I think they're kind of putting the pieces together and thinking things have maybe accelerated.
"I don't look at it that way. I look at this as it's been a long-term process. It's going to be a long-term process of making the organization healthier. Obviously, over time, that manifests more and more at the big-league level. We have to embrace that."