The Padres Venezuelan infielder recently lost his wife after a battle with Cancer. Her loss was deeply felt by the organization as well as all of Major League Baseball. You can only imagine how difficult this has been for Solarte as he is left with three young daughters to raise. The problems the team has developed this season are minuscule compared to the realities of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he deals with real life problems, and not those of this most perfect game we all love.
Though the season has been rough for him at home, his production on the field has been amazing. Solarte has established a new career high in home runs and RBI. He has slugged .472 this season and sits with a 118 OPS+ in 105 games. He looks to be getting better with the bat, and that is certainly exciting for Padres fans. Their hearts are with him in this trying moment and with every hit they rejoice with him.
The Padres found themselves quite the ball player when they traded Chase Headley to the New York Yankees in late July of 2014. In the deal the Padres received Yangervis Solarte and RHP Rafael De Paula. Solarte immediately paid dividends for the Friars, hitting .267 in 56 games. De Paula looks to be a solid prospect as well, as he went 4-2 this season in 45 games with a 2.66 ERA. He made it all the way to El Paso and looks to have an outside chance to pitch at Petco next season. Keep your eye on him. The deal just keeps getting better for Padres fans.
Yangervis Solarte had played for two previous organizations (Twins/Rangers) prior to being acquired from the Yankees. He has been in pro ball since 2006 and has put up decent numbers at every stop. Nothing flashy, but solid strikeout to walk ratios across the board. He has a .280 career minor league average to go with a .340 on base percentage in over 2,500 at bats.
At the present time, Solarte has established himself as a middle of the order hitter for the team. His switch-hitting bat is important for the team right now, as he can break up the Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe right handed combination in the Padres future lineup. His left-handed swing is vital in late innings as teams stock up on their right handed relievers to try to isolate the team. The Padres are pleased with Solarte and he is not due for free agency until the 2020 season. He will be in the lineup as long as he is healthy. He has certainly provided enough offense to dictate that. There are positives to his game and there are also negatives, but all in all, Solarte should be a mainstay on the team for awhile.
When the game is on the line, there might not be a better player on the team to have at bat for you. Solarte seems to constantly get the big hit for the team. His switch hitting stroke is equally effective from both sides of the plate, as he is hitting .264 batting right handed and .296 left-handed this season. Solarte is not a huge power threat, but he certainly has gap power and he will send it over the fence occasionally if a pitcher hangs a pitch to him. He generally puts the ball in play while he is hitting, and that is useful. Out of all the Padres players, Solarte is probably the best contact hitter. He could be a great #2 hitter in the lineup if the Padres have the right cast of characters around him. Expect more clutch hits from this Venezuelan wonder no matter where he is hitting in the lineup.
Leadership Abilities & Mentoring Youth
With an increase in Latin players in the Padres farm system, they are going to need a veteran to mentor them. Solarte is capable of being that person, as he provides a ton of enthusiasm to the team. He is all over the place talking to teammates on game day and is very vocal on the bench. The team has a huge amount of Venezuelan players on the 40 man roster. Luis Sardinas, Oswaldo Arcia, Alexi Amarista, Hector Sanchez, and Carlos Asuaje are all young Venezuelan baseball players who could greatly benefit from the tutelage of Yangervis Solarte.
Being able to play multiple positions is a great thing in this day and age of major league baseball. Solarte can play all four infield positions, although it has been awhile since he has played shortstop. He started one game and played eight innings at short in 2014 after he was first acquired from the Yankees. The Padres quickly made the determination that, although he is capable of playing the position, you certainly do not want him out there if you have other options. He just simply lacks the range and lateral quickness to play the position. Solarte can play an adequate second base and first base as well as an above average third base. The hot corner is clearly his best position, as he does leave many questions playing on the right side of the infield. The fact he is a switch hitter and has the ability to play multiple positions makes Solarte an extremely versatile ball player.
At the age of 29, Solarte is not a young player by any means. In fact his best years are supposedly behind him in a traditional sense. They say baseball players peak at the age of 27 and 28, so have we seen the best we are gonna get out of him? Age is a pretty good indicator if a players production will increase or not, so the smart money says Solarte’s production will not increase significantly, if at all. Solarte missed time early in the year with a hamstring injury, and ailments like this could be a factor as he gets older.
Lack of Hustle
Twice this season Solarte has been removed from a game by manager Andy Green for not hustling. That is alarming, but given what he has been going through at home, you have to take it with a grain of salt. Though I will note, typically since Solarte was attained from the Yankees he has shown a propensity to play a bit lackadaisical. I am certainly glad Green called him out for that. Solarte is a leader on the team and the ball club certainly does not need efforts like that from a player whom the younger farm hands are to emulate.
Defense & Speed
Third base seems to be his best position defensively. He can play second and first, but looks entirely more confident at the hot corner. He is not a prototypical third baseman as he is not a 30 home run guy. He does, however, drive in runs, and is a high energy guy that could easily hit in the middle of your lineup.
With a more stable home life (as stable as it can be under these circumstances) and another full season under his belt, Solarte should have another solid year. He will be mostly ignored as a key to the Padres success, but those that understand the game know how vital he is to the team. There are rumors the team could explore trading him and putting Ryan Schimpf at third base, but that all remains to be seen. A.J. Preller has many options when it comes to the future of the team. At this time, Solarte looks to be a solid core piece for the Padres, but anything can happen when it comes to attempting to improve your team.