Soto invited to camp for big league experience

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians did not bring Giovanni Soto to big league camp to throw him into the mix as a rotation candidate. Cleveland invited the pitching prospect to get a close look at his arm and to give him a taste of the big league experience.

As is the case with plenty of young players in the preseason, Soto has struggled out of the gates while trying to both prepare and impress.

"He's had two really tough games," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's just a case of I think we're not seeing the good in him yet in the games. We will. I think it's probably speeding up. I think he's trying to do too much. All those things. In the dugout, he looked so down [after his last outing]. That's just a young kid trying to do too much.

"It's amazing. You'll look up in July and he'll be wherever he's pitching and he'll be doing fine."

In two Cactus League appearances, the 21-year-old Soto has given up seven runs on six hits in 1 1/3 innings of work. The lefty has no strikeouts, one home run allowed and four walks in his two brief outings.

Cleveland gave Soto the nod as its starter for the team's Cactus League opener on Friday, but did so mainly to help him prep for the World Baseball Classic. Soto is currently on Puerto Rico's roster and will play under manager Edwin Rodriguez, who also manages the Indians' Double-A Akron affiliate.

The Tribe acquired Soto from the Tigers on July 28, 2010 in exchange for shortstop Jhonny Peralta and cash. Last season, Soto went 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 22 outings at Double-A. Over 121 1/3 innings, the lefty had 100 strikeouts against 49 walks.

"We really like him," Francona said. "The reason we let him start that [first] game is he's going to the WBC, and potentially he's going to start. We actually need to talk to Edwin about this, because [Soto] hasn't gotten through an inning yet, so we need to sit down and figure that out."