There has been much debate about whether or not Geovany Soto will bounce back from his dreadful season in 2009.
Soto is an extremely difficult player to judge and analyze. Soto was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008, while hitting a .285 average, 23 home runs and 86 runs batted in. However, in 2009, he followed up his rookie of the year campaign with a .218 average, 11 home runs and 47 runs batted in.
So how do you evaluate a player with a track record in the majors that has one very successful season, and also one very putrid season under his belt?
My best advice with a player that is fairly new to the big leagues, take a look at his track record in the minor leagues.
Since we have such a small sample size of Soto's major league career, his minor league career might suggest which version is the real Geovany Soto, the 2008 rookie of the year version or the 2009 lackluster version.
His minor league career is almost as confusing as his major league career, but the keyword is ALMOST.
From 2001 to 2006, there was very little known about Soto, he wasn't regarded as a top prospect.
His best overall season during that span was in 2004 at Double-A, when he put up a .271 average, nine home runs, 48 runs batted in and 47 runs scored.
He owned a .262 batting average and only hit 25 home runs in 1,574 at bats over his first six years in the minor leagues. That comes out to one home run every 63 at bats.
He never reached double-digit home runs in any single season from 2001 to 2006. He actually only hit seven or more home runs in one season over that span.
However, Soto came out of nowhere in 2007, while at Triple-A and blasted 26 home runs in only 385 at bats. He hit more home runs in 07' than he did in his previous six years in the minors.
In 2007, Soto posted an incredible .353 average with 26 home runs and 109 runs batted in.
Soto was awarded the starting catching position for the Chicago Cubs in 08' and he picked up where he left off in 07', and won the NL Rookie of the Year award for his impressive season in 08' with the big league club.
Soto ended up hitting rock bottom in 2009, as he struggled to find his groove for the entire season, but was it just a fluke year for Soto?
Sadly, his minor league career suggests he's more prone to having seasons similar to 09' rather than his spectacular 08' season. He has had two tremendous seasons in his career between the minor leagues and the major league, but he has had seven sub par seasons.
The Verdict on Soto in 2010: Soto's average should bounce back a bit from last year and if that happens, his power numbers should slightly increase as well, but don't expect a repeat performance of his magnificent 08' season. Expect somewhere in the range of a .260 average, 15 home runs and 60 runs batted in for Soto in 2010.