There's the Import,
"He's the difference maker," says one National League executive. "Not just with the bat he gives them. He's stabilized the pitching staff."
Says a scout, "Catchers who do it all are such a scarce commodity in the game. He doesn't play or carry himself like someone who's never played a full season. He's going to be the best catcher in the game for a number of seasons to come."
Only one rookie in history --
"This year it's a different lineup-- a more disciplined lineup," says Reds pitcher
Just as impressive have been what Soto has done behind the plate. He has learned to tame the combustible Zambrano -- "He understands me, knows how to kick me in the ass when he has to but also knows how to calm me down when I'm too hot," says El Toro -- and guided youngsters like 22-year-old
Only a year ago Soto was a middling minor league prospect with a career batting average barely north of .260. Entering last season he had 26 career home runs over six minor league seasons. But then Soto exploded: In 2007 he led the minors in batting average by a catcher (.353) and overall slugging percentage (.652), won the Triple-A Pacific Coast League MVP award and was the Cubs' minor league player of the year.
The difference? "I changed what I ate," says Soto. He went on the
But forget about future projections. The Cubs are the best team in the National League at this season's midway point, and the Rookie is ready to lead them all the way through October.