After Yangervis Solarte‘s brilliant start from seemingly nowhere, how did the Yankees find this gem?
When Solarte’s 2013 season ended in Triple-A, again, he had just completed his sixth year of minor league service. Scouts from various clubs were evaluating players for next season, and scout Jay Darnell took a peek at the Texas Rangers organization. Says Darnell, “They had a lot of top end prospects – (Jurickson) Profar, (Mike) Olt. Solarte was trying to find his spot there. When I saw him with Triple-A, it was early. He was playing second and Olt was at third and Profar was at shortstop. I had never seen him before, but liked the versatility, overall baseball acumen. With our need for infielders, I thought he’d be good.”
Assistant General Manager Billy Eppler received a list from the analytics department on the best minor leaguers with expiring contracts. Solarte, almost a Double-A minor league batting champion (2011), made the list. The native Venezuelan is also a switch-hitter who can play multiple positions, anywhere in the infield to the corner outfield spots (He trained a little in left during this spring training). He had decent power, with two consecutive seasons of double-digit homers. Plus, he was slightly younger than some of the other free agent minor leaguers. Eppler points out, “He’s young relative to that peer group.” He turns 27 in July.
So why did Solarte choose New York? There were other teams pursuing him, but he decided to join the Yankees because “…the Yankees were there from the beginning.” After so much talk about how the Yankees only buy their players, the scouting team did a fantastic job of stealing a diamond from the minor league system.
Solarte is playing like an All-Star, hitting .373 and no errors, replacing Alex Rodriguez at third base.