Geovany Soto ’s 2009 struggles left many fantasy owners searching for a new catcher by mid May. Fortunately, everything points to a bounce back season for the Cubs’ catcher.
Following the 2007 season which saw him hit 26 HRs, collect 109 RBI and post a .353 batting clip for Triple-A Iowa, Soto won N.L. Rookie of the Year honors in 2008. He blasted 23 HRs, while adding 86 RBI and a .285 batting average, proving his minor league success was no fluke.
Soto’s sophomore season was doomed from the start, as a shoulder injury limited him early in the spring.
Instead of traveling with the Cubs in spring training, Soto backed up Ivan Rodriguez on Puerto Rico’s World Baseball Classic team, preventing him from getting regular playing time.
When it finally seemed like Soto was getting back on track in June, word spread that he had failed a drug test during the World Baseball Classic. The Cubs’ backstop finished 2009 with 11 HRs, 47 RBI and an embarrassing .218 batting average in just 331 at-bats.
Despite these struggles, fantasy owners should be buying low on the 27-year-old Soto—while they still can.
Soto actually increased his walk rate from 11.0 percent in 2008 to 12.9 percent in 2009. He even decreased his strikeout rate , from 24.5 percent during his rookie campaign to 23.3 percent last year. His contact rate increased from 74.7 percent in ‘08, to 78.3 percent in his sophomore season.
Soto’s keen eye is evident in his improved o-swing (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) as well. After posting an o-swing rate of 20.1 percent in ‘08, he lowered that total to 17.8 percent last season.
Judging by these totals, (and his .246 BABIP ) Soto’s disastrous 2009 season can be chalked up mostly to pure dumb luck.
Looking forward to 2010, here’s what you need to know: Soto arrived to Cubs camp 40 pounds lighter than last year. Given 500 at-bats, the former 11th round pick should approach 20 HRs and a .270 average, catapulting him back into top-five catcher territory.
FBI Forecast: 500 at-bats, 60 runs, 20 HRs, 80 RBI, .270 batting average
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