He hasn't been as hyped as fellow Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, and he can't match Cespedes' flair for YouTube promotion, but some teams believe Soler is the better prospect. He's a 19-year-old athlete with five-tool potential.
Six-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Soler has explosive bat speed and power potential. He also has plus speed and arm strength and profiles as a classic right fielder, though he runs well enough to play center. Because of his youth, he'll need some time to develop, but he should be worth the wait.
The 2010 draft had a clear top three prospects in Harper, Taillon and Machado. I'm not sure Soler would have gone ahead of any of them. The Pirates insist they would have taken Taillon over Harper had they picked first rather than second, and five-tool players are harder to find at shortstop (Machado) then in the outfield.
The less-than-stellar performance record of high-profile Cuban defectors might have worked against Soler, too. All that said, he would have been more attractive then steady middle infielder Christian Colon (No. 4, Royals) or lefthander Drew Pomeranz (No. 5, Indians).
As for the 2012 Top 100 Prospects list, Soler is somewhat similar to Royals outfielder Bubba Starling, the fifth overall pick in the 2011 draft. Starling has the advantages of being more athletic and a better bet to stay in center field. I'd see both of them sitting in the 11-20 range on our next Top 100.
Soler is four years younger and more talented than Leonys Martin, another Cuban outfielder who signed a $15.6 million major league contract with the Rangers in April. Once Soler is cleared to sign with a major league team, he's expected to top Martin's deal.
The new CBA provides for a $2.9 million international cap for each team for the 2012-13 signing period, which doesn't start until July 2. As long as Soler signs before then, he won't be subject to the cap. And even if he were, he's talented enough and the penalties for busting the cap are so light (a 100-percent tax on the overage and a prohibition on signing any international player for more than $250,000 in the next signing period) that I bet several clubs would be willing to exceed the $2.9 million.