Entering spring training, not many people knew who Yangervis Solarte was. As a 26-year-old infielder who had never played in the Major Leagues, Solarte was pegged as a long shot to make the squad by everyone except for Yankees’ infield coach Mick Kelleher. He saw something in Solarte that intrigued him; his work ethic. Working all over the infield during camp, Solarte would field ground balls from Kelleher until he wouldn’t hit them anymore.
“He’s hungry. He’s a worker. He’s a quick learner and a heads-up player,” Kelleher told MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “None of us knew him, really. He’s got a lot of great qualities to have that you look for in a player.”
No one imagined this Cinderella story. An unheard of rookie playing everyday at third base for the New York Yankees? Let’s not forget who he is replacing over at the hot corner as well. Not only is he playing everyday, he’s also mashing the ball. In his 41 games played, Solarte is hitting .310 with 5 home runs while leading the team with 24 RBI. Again, Kelleher isn’t surprised at how well Solarte is doing; Kelleher feels all those years in the minors helped him evolve into the player he is today.
With his experience in the minor leagues, I think that’s where he’s learned his trade,” Kelleher said. “You’ve seen what he’s done. You could probably put him anywhere and he’s comfortable. He’s confident in his ability. All players here need that. We’ve all been very impressed with him.”
Even while hitting .429 in spring training, Solarte was almost a victim of uncertainty. It took until the last day of camp for the Yankees to reward his hard work and choose him over Eduardo Nunez.
He had such a great spring, but when you don’t know somebody, you’ve got to be careful in selecting just a spring training player. We all liked him and we didn’t want to lose him. Shoot, he made the club and I’m glad he did.”
~Mick Kelleher on Yangervis Solarte
I think we are all glad he made it.