When the San Diego Padres traded Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays on January 6, 2018, it was a move to clear space in the infield.
The team had just acquired Chase Headley from the New York Yankees, while Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg, and Christian Villanueva all took up spots that Solarte normally played. With a crowded infield, the Padres pulled the trigger on a trade, sending Solarte to Toronto and receiving two prospects brimming with potential; Edward Olivares and Jared Carkuff.
While Carkuff is still pitching in Fort Wayne, Olivares has started to take off in the Padres system. The Venezuelan outfielder, who had tapped into his power potential with the Blue Jays by hitting 17 home runs in Single-A, has continued to do so with the Padres and then some.
He collected a .277/.321/.429 batting line with 12 home runs with Lake Elsinore in 2018. Now that he is in Double-A with the Amarillo Sod Poodles, his prospect stock has skyrocketed thanks to the breakout season he is having not just at the plate, but in all aspects of his game.
What is perhaps the catalyst of his breakout is his newfound plate discipline. At Lake Elsinore, Olivares chased plenty of pitches outside the zone while failing to get into positive hitters counts, but that is not the case in Amarillo. Now, thanks to working on his timing and patience at the plate, Olivares has collected a .302/.368/.496 batting line with 16 home runs in 98 games at the Double-A level. His walk rate has jumped from 5.0% in 2017 to 7.9% in 2018, and he has already collected a 34:78 walks-to-strikeout ratio.
The power potential that was shown in Lake Elsinore has fully matured as well. His OPS is a career-high .864 while his ISO sits at a team-high .194. Perhaps the spike in OPS and ISO come from the contact he has been making. In 2018, 46.6% of the contact he made went for a ground ball. Conversely, only 39.7% of the contact he has made as a Sod Poodle is a ground ball. In exchange, Olivares is connecting for more line drives, evidenced by the 27.6% line drive rate he has assembled.
Edward Olivares needs to be on peoples radar when talking about the system.
Leading the Soddies in:
Home Runs (13)
Looks confident. He made big strides in the field from the beginning of the year.
— Austin Hartsfield (@HartsfieldMLB) July 17, 2019
Ringing hits like the above video (courtesy of East Village Times’ Austin Hartsfield) have been commonplace for the Sod Poodles outfielder. Observe as Olivares goes down and gets the low pitch to yank the ball into left field to drive in a run. He likes to hit the ball to his pull side, evidenced by a 42.9 pull percentage. He has, however, been using more of the field as he has hit 29.4% of baseballs to center field, an increase of 4.9% from last year’s percentage.
While his offensive production is important, Olivares hasn’t slacked off on his defensive instincts in the outfield. The presence of Buddy Reed in center field has limited Olivares to right field, but his quick instincts and an exceptional first step help him get to the ball. Were it not for Reed, Olivares’ speed and abilities would lead him to be suiting up to play center field. His toolset in the outfield has led to some superhuman plays in the outfield, which is good for his future with the team.
Even with the addition of star prospect Taylor Trammell to the lineup, Sod Poodles manager Phillip Wellman will be hard-pressed to keep the slugger out of the lineup. Olivares brings power and speed to any lineup, and it could get him to the Major Leagues.