26-Year-Old First Baseman – Free Agent
2015 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
While Soto had a good line at Triple-A Louisville, it was his third full season there, and he's been overmatched every time he's been called up to the major league level. The Reds have apparently seen...
Soto was traded to the White Sox on Monday for cash considerations, CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes reports.
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Neftali Soto: MLB Games Played By Position
Neftali Soto: Minor League Games Played By Position
Neftali Soto Split Stats (View Full Split Stats)
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Neftali Soto: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Soto's inability to make the next step at Triple-A Louisville are emblematic with the struggles of the Reds' farm system to produce adequate bench bats and injury replacements the last two seasons. After hitting 30 homers in 2011 at Double-A Carolina, Soto hit for half as many each of the next two seasons at the next level up, all while moving to first base, where he's of the least possible value in the Reds' organization. When he got a cup of coffee in September, he was overmatched, striking out six times in 12 hitless at-bats. And the big problem for the Reds is that there isn't much else in the upper levels of their farm system that's better than Soto, so he remains on the 40-man roster despite being an unlikely candidate to help in the event of an injury to one of their major league starters.
Soto is a blocked prospect, and a flawed one at that. After the club determined that he couldn't handle third base and moved him over to first, he found himself stuck behind Joey Votto and then Todd Frazier last year. Frazier's likely full-time gig at third base might open up an opportunity for Soto in 2013, but Soto first has to prove he's worth it. His 25 percent strikeout rate in the minors is going to look a whole lot worse when he's exposed to major league pitching, and his previously reliable power disappeared last season. He'll turn 24 in February, so the clock is ticking for him, though it hasn't run out yet.
Soto has been moved across the diamond to first base, considerably lowering his value. Otherwise, the book on Soto remains the same - excellent power (30 homers at Double-A Carolina in 2011), terrible plate discipline. But as the Reds' experience with Yonder Alonso demonstrates, Soto doesn't have much of a future with the big league club at first base. A trade is his best hope.
Soto is similar to Reds third-base prospect Juan Francisco, except less refined. He walked just 23 times in 505 at-bats at High-A Sarasota, and probably needs to repeat that level, at least for a half-season. His stagnation is yet another reminder to not get too excited about a prospect before he hits the upper levels of the minors and the competition improves.
The Reds are awash in third base prospects, but Soto might ultimately prove to be the best among them. He slugged a combined .558 between Rookie-ball and Low-A Dayton as a 19-year-old. As his 11:46 BB:K in 285 at-bats might indicate, he's still pretty raw, and he might take a longer time to master successive levels. Defensively, he's no great improvement over Edwin Encarnacion. Still, with another year of progress you might find him among the top prospects in the game.