Slimmer Soto Making his Case

METAIRIE, La. – For some time now, Iowa Cubs manager Buddy Bailey has waited for Geovany Soto to cool off.

It hasn't happened yet and may not anytime soon.

"It's surprised me," Bailey said of Soto's MVP-caliber season. "I kept waiting for him to fall off, but he keeps getting his knocks and RBIs every night."

Soto had arguably his best knocks of the season on Thursday night.

The Cubs' catching prospect went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs in Triple-A Iowa's 10-2 romp of the New Orleans Zephyrs at Zephyr Field.

Soto () also walked and doubled in the game, scoring all four times he reached base. He has hit safely in all but one game this month and has now reached base safely in 24 straight games dating back to July 30.

"Geo is playing great. He's really worked hard and he may be our most improved player in the organization," said Cubs Assistant General Manager Randy Bush.

Soto's hard work began back in Spring Training with a commitment to his body. He went on a strict diet and has since lost 30 pounds.

"It's quickened him up in every area. His speed is quicker and in turn his bat is quicker," Bailey noted.

Soto feels the difference in his new frame, which was previously listed at 6'1 and 230 pounds according to various media guides prior to the season.

"It's helped a lot," he said of the weight loss. "It's helped my arm and my stamina, my ability to keep going on the field. It's been very good."

With only a handful of games left in the minor league season, Soto leads both the Pacific Coast League and the Cubs organization with a .362 batting average in 103 games. He has a career-high 23 home runs and 99 RBIs.

Soto, like Bailey, is a little surprised by his those numbers.

"I am a little bit, but I always thought I could be this type of player," said Soto. "Now I'm trying to obligate them (the Cubs) to make a move."

That could happen sooner rather than later with annual September call-up's lurking right around the corner. Soto has already been called up to Chicago once this season but was sent down after playing in just two games.

On Thursday, Soto cracked his first home run of the night to left-center to lead off the second inning. He followed with a walk in the fourth inning and just missed a home run on a double to deep left-center in the sixth.

About the only thing Soto missed with his next powerful swing an inning later was the area just to the left of the New Orleans Saints' official headquarters located beyond the Zephyr Field outfield.

Soto teed off on a 2-0 pitch from reliever Ryan Cullen that left the yard in straight-away center and gave Iowa a commanding eight-run lead.

With the type of numbers Soto has put up this season, he knows he is making a strong case for Pacific Coast League MVP honors.

Above all, he's making a case for a major league roster spot.

"I just want to put up good numbers so that next year, I have a shot at being in the big leagues," Soto said after Thursday's game.

"I'll take whatever they want me to do."

Unless that means playing first base.

Soto has auditioned at first on more than one occasion this season, but it's not something he has enjoyed. Catchers are catchers, after all.

"I don't like it at all. I hate it," he said of playing first. "It's a strange position to be in. If you make a mistake, you feel really weird."

But Soto's mistakes this season have been few and far between.

He has recorded hitting streaks of nine, 11, and 15 games, respectively, and is having his best month at the plate with a .446 average in August. In fact, Soto has failed to record a hit in only three games since July began.

Behind the dish, he's thrown out 32 percent of opposing runners, which places third among all catchers in the Pacific Coast League.

His accomplishments this season have not been confined solely to either offense or defense.

"He has been rewarded, and he has basically rewarded himself with that decision back in Spring Training," Bailey said.

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