Every Spring Training, no matter what team’s jersey you own, you’re going to see a bunch of players you’ve never heard of. Spring Training is a great time for teams to try out new prospects to get to know them, see if they can catch lightning in a bottle with a veteran on his last legs, or give an opportunity to a guy who might have the talent to make an impact, but was blocked at his position on his old team. It’s inevitable that at least one of these guys will make contribute to the major league team at some point that given year. Could this be the year of Yangervis Solarte?
Before you ask, no I didn’t make up that name. His actual first name is Yangervis, and I haven’t met one Yankees fan who doesn’t love it yet, so get over it. Most fans I’ve met are wondering where he came from, though. The Yankees got him this off-season after he was released by the Rangers, but he’s been toiling away in the minors for a long time.
Solarte, who was born and raised in Carabobo, Venezuela, and was signed by the Twins as a 18 year old, began his minor league career in 2006. He made it to AA in just three years, but his career then stalled. After his second year playing for AA New Britain, and despite hitting .329/.367/.466, the Twins let him go, and he was scooped up by the Rangers. Texas sent Solarte to their AAA affiliate, Round Rock, and Solarte kept right on hitting. Over two years, he hit .282/.332/.404 and averaged 11.5 homers and 64.5 RBI. Those are pretty solid numbers, but, because they came in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (where fellow camp invitee Dean Anna hit .331 last year), some of the luster does come off.
The Rangers released Solarte this off-season in order to make room on their 40-man roster. The Rangers are pretty set at infield for the near future with guys like Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus, and Yangervis is a little too old to be a prospect. He lost out to the numbers game, and the Yankees were able to pick him up.
All he has done since joining the Yankees is hit. Through his first 18 games, he’s 16-34 with 2 homers and 8 RBI. Those two homers came very early on in the spring, but he definitely made a good impression on manager Joe Girardi with his bat. He’s not going to hit .471 in the big leagues, or even at AAA, but he’s a switch hitter with a little speed and a little pop, and he can play all over the infield. For some reason, the Yankees refuse to give up on Eduardo Nunez, and Dean Anna would seem to have the inside track on being next in line from the minors, but Solarte could be an intriguing option. I don’t think he will make this team out of Spring Training, but he should provide some nice depth at AAA if and when Derek Jeter or Brian Roberts get hurt.
Here’s hoping to see Yangervis in 2014!
Featured image courtesy of: Steven Senne/Associated Press
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