There was a pair of red-white-and-blue Nike cleats at the bottom of the locker next to Starlin Castro’s. Side-by-side, the back of the shoes spelled out two words: JORGE SOLER.

We’re pretty sure Nike won’t be rolling out a line of Air Solers this spring. The $30 million Cuban defector is likely ticketed for Class-A Daytona to start the season. But he does have an idea of how much the fans in Chicago are looking forward to watching him play.

“Si,” Soler said.

After drawing a crowd taking batting practice at Fitch Park, Soler showed off his power during Thursday’s five-inning intrasquad scrimmage at HoHoKam Stadium. The veteran White team won 7-3. But for a franchise looking toward the future, the focus inevitably shifted to the Blue kids squad.

Soler drove a pitch from Nick Struck – the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2012 – toward left field as Alfonso Soriano watched it sail over the fence. Soler also drew a walk, showing the patience the Cubs hope he will develop at the plate.

OK, now it’s time to channel Allen Iverson and remind everyone: We’re talking about practice.

But for a player who missed roughly two years of real game action as the Soler sweepstakes played out – moving to the Dominican Republic, establishing residency in Haiti and signing with the Cubs – this time on the field matters.

“It’s really, really important for me,” Soler said through an interpreter. “You play every day, you learn a lot about baseball.”

Long before Theo Epstein’s crew took over at Clark and Addison, the Cubs had a history of hyping their prospects. Fans still remember the names (think Felix Pie) that didn’t hit it big. Assistant coach/translator Franklin Font said Soler wants to make his mark on the North Side.