This afternoon, it was announced that the San Diego Padres had dealt incumbent infielder and widespread fan favorite Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays.
I had a couple of thoughts when news of the trade (and, shortly after, the return) first broke:
- Man, I’m really going to miss Yangervis Solarte.
- Who the heck are these guys we got in return?
Therein lies the beauty of most baseball trades, however: general managers identifying talent in the far reaches of others’ farm systems.
A little bit of research later, and a clearer picture of each of the organization’s two newest players begins to form.
Allow me to outline…
Edward Olivares (OF)
The majority of available reports on Olivares point to a player who has the upside to be A.J. Preller’s next diamond in the rough. Whether he reaches that ceiling or not, however, will depend almost entirely on whether the 21-year old can polish some of the athleticism he brings to the field.
Olivares’ calling card is his power-speed combination. Through 120 games split between Single-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin in 2017, the outfielder posted 17 home runs and 20 steals.
The speed is legitimate, with MLB Pipeline putting a 60 grade on it, and translates well to in-game situations on the bases. With a lanky 6’2”, 186-pound frame, Olivares also comes with some additional physical projection that should allow him to tap into his power at the plate more fully. A few mechanical adjustments will contribute to that projection further, as Olivares would do well to add more consistent leverage to his swing. That being said, the ball already jumps off his bat, and any added pop will simply be icing on the cake for a player who added 27 doubles and 10 triples to those aforementioned 17 round-trippers in 2017.
His biggest weakness? Discipline at the plate. As can be seen in the video above, he shows a propensity to chase pitches off the plate, and his swing, while short to the zone, fails to consistently cover the outer-third of the plate. Statistically, those bat-to-ball skills have yet to truly hold him back, as he still managed to post a respectable .269 batting average last season. However, as he faces more advanced pitching in the upper levels of the minors, improvements on a .30 walk-to-strikeout ratio will need to be made.
On defense, Olivares’ speed affords him enough range to competently cover all three outfield positions. Scouts grade his arm as strong enough to play in right, and he’s a feasible fit in both center and right moving forward.
Ultimately, the Venezuela-born Olivares (who slots in as the Padres’ No. 24 prospect per MLB Pipeline) joins other toolsy outfielders like Jeisson Rosario and Michael Gettys in the Friars’ system. Likely to begin 2018 in High-A Lake Elsinore, he has the look of a probable fourth outfielder at the big league level, though with some refining of his obvious physical tools, he comes with the potential to improve on that projection and make his way as an athletic, offense-first option for the Padres.
Jared Carkuff (RHP)
Less information exists on the inter-webs about the other half of the package from the Blue Jays, right-handed reliever Jared Carkuff (the video above was posted more than a year and half ago).
A 35th-round selection in the 2016 draft out of Austin Peay University, Carkuff pitched at four different minor league levels in 2017, spending the majority of his time between Single-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin before a three-inning cameo at Triple-A Buffalo. Overall, he posted a 3.86 ERA over 63 innings, striking out 51 and walking just 15.
Carkuff’s primary offerings are a fastball that can run up into the low-nineties with some natural sink and a slider usually thrown in the low-to-mid eighties. Mechanically, he’s fairly clean, with the only complaint being a dose of rigidity in his arm swing. Between his pitching arsenal and his clean mechanics, Carkuff lives around the zone and keeps balls on the ground enough to have already advanced much farther than most 35th-rounders will.
At 24 years old, Carkuff isn’t likely to add much (if any) bulk to his lanky 6’3”, 180-pound frame, and at this point, what you see is likely what you’re going to get. However, that still projects as an arm with major league potential if things break right, even if his ultimate outlook is probably nothing more than the sort of ho-hum bullpen option only recognized by hometown fans. Expect him to join Olivares in High-A Lake Elsinore to start 2018.
Oh, the Carkuff clan also appears to be full of fans of questionable karaoke renditions, so there’s that.
When it comes down to it, neither player offers too much in the way of run-and-tell-your-friends career projections (American Idol aspirations aside). That being said, both have enough current talent and physical upside that it shouldn’t surprise anyone if either (both?) make their way to Petco Park in the next few years as semi-regular contributors on playoff teams to come.