Yanks' Solak thriving in march through Minors
Former second-round pick named Majors' No. 5 2B prospect by MLB Pipeline
NEW YORK -- As he ascends to the higher levels of the Minor Leagues, Nick Solak has merited praise as a "winning-type player who can hit and has real attributes that are clutch," as Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer recently said.
MLB Pipeline has agreed, announcing on Monday that they rate Solak as the No. 5 second-base prospect in all of baseball. The 23-year-old Solak played well at two levels of the Yanks' system last year, and though he is pegged to begin 2018 in the Double-A Eastern League, a big league promotion may not be far off.
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"Being a young player in the organization, that's the goal," Solak told the New York Post. "You want to do everything you can to put yourself in a position to keep improving, to keep developing as a player so you can help the team win up in the big leagues."
A second-round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Louisville, Solak was among the hottest collegiate players that spring, batting .455 through his first 22 games. However, he missed a month of the season after being hit in the right hand by a pitch.
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Signing with the Yankees for a slightly below slot $950,000, Solak immediately impressed at Class A Staten Island, ranking third in the New York-Penn League in batting average (.321) and on-base percentage (.412). That ability to hit and get on base came as no surprise to Yanks personnel, who have watched his right-handed swing for years.
"Solak just barrels up a ball really well," former Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell told NJ.com. "He has that knack that is hard to teach sometimes. It really is. He obviously sees the ball really well, barreling up the ball consistently."
Solak played his first 100 games of 2017 for Class A Tampa, where the converted corner outfielder compiled a .301/.397/.460 slash line with 17 doubles, four triples, 10 homers, 44 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.
Solak played solidly after being promoted to Double-A Trenton, batting .286/.344/.429 with nine doubles, a triple, two homers and nine RBIs in 30 games. There is room for improvement, as the Yankees would like to see him cut down on his strikeouts (100 in 465 at-bats) and errors (17).
MLB Pipeline's second-base prospects ahead of Solak are Scott Kingery (Phillies), Luis Urias (Padres), Keston Hiura (Brewers) and Isan Diaz (Brewers). After Solak, Shed Long (Reds), Garrett Hampson (Rockies), Max Schrock (Cardinals), Brandon Lowe (Rays) and Kevin Kramer (Pirates) earned recognition.