Jorge Soler ‘feeling confident’ as he joins Braves’ lineup

The Braves started newcomer Jorge Soler in right field and put him sixth in the lineup Saturday night against the Brewers. Soler officially joined the team Saturday after the Braves acquired him from the Royals at Friday’s trade deadline for pitching prospect Kasey Kalich.

Soler, 29, was hitting .192/.288/.370 with 13 homers, 37 RBIs and 38 runs scored in 94 games. He’s played better recently, homering six times in his past nine games.

“Realistically, I don’t think it’s been a good season,” Soler said via team interpreter Franco Garcia. “I think I got off to a slow start. But with that being said, I feel like over the last few games I’ve definitely sort of found myself again and started hitting my stride.

“I feel a lot better. I’m feeling a lot more confident, and I’m just making better contact with the ball.”

Formerly a top Cubs prospect, Soler is familiar with the National League. Defense isn’t one of his strong suits, to put it lightly, but he said he’s most comfortable in right field. The Braves see him as a valuable power bat against lefties, but Soler was starting against Brewers right-hander Brandon Woodruff.

Despite an underwhelming two seasons, Soler isn’t far removed from a 48-homer, 117-RBI showing in 2019. That was the only season where he realized the immense potential that made him such a coveted young player with the Cubs.

“I feel like I sort of created that expectation for myself because it’s something I know I’m capable of,” he said. “So I think it was something that I was working forward towards. And I’m working hard. I’m working really hard just to return to that same form.”

If he recaptures even a semblance of that form, Soler will be an important addition for the Braves as they try to win their fourth consecutive National League East title. As general manager Alex Anthopoulos noted Friday, the team has lost its share of low scoring and close games.

Perhaps Soler can make a difference in the coming weeks.

“I’m very grateful and happy that the team welcomed me with open arms,” he said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m just ready to give it my all, leave everything out in the field for the team.”

Braves notes:

- Catcher Travis d’Arnaud (thumb) went 0-for-1 with a walk in his rehab appearance with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. He was off Saturday and will catch five or six innings Sunday, manager Brian Snitker said. D’Arnaud is also expected to log at-bats as a designated hitter during his rehab stint.

- Starter Ian Anderson (shoulder inflammation) threw a side session Friday that went well, Snitker said. He’ll throw another side session Monday before the team travels to St. Louis. It’s encouraging progress for Anderson, who hasn’t pitched since July 11.

- Right-hander Huascar Ynoa is scheduled to start for High-A Rome on Sunday in the next part of his rehab. Ynoa is on track to rejoin the Braves sometime in August.