Earlier this month Twins minor league 2B Yangervis Solarte was granted free agency. It wasn’t exactly big news, especially given that over 500 other minor league players hit the free agent market, but a number of sites took notice of Solarte’s availability.
They did so with good reason as his presence on the market is a little atypical. Or perhaps I should say his presence was a little atypical. Texas Rangers signed him to a minor league contract last week. November 30th to be exact.
What the Rangers got as a result was a talented player capable of playing a multitude of positions with 2B being his best and most natural spot on the diamond.
He also happens to be coming off the best season in his minor league career. Solarte, now 24, hit 0.329/.367/.466 with 36 2B, 7 HR, 24 BB and 38 SO for the New Britain Rock Cats (AA) in 2011. It was a breakthrough year of sorts, but given his career line of 0.288/.340/.392 after 6 seasons, he was no slouch before hand. Solarte is currently playing in the Venezuelan Winter League for Tigres de Aragua and is hitting 0.313/.389/.438 through 16 games.
Signed by the Twins out of Venezuela in 2005 Solarte has battled injuries throughout his career but has set career highs in games played the last two years including 121 this past season. If he has officially kicked the injury bug he has a chance to be a “late bloomer” though that implies he’s well behind the curve and that isn’t entirely true. His contract includes an invite to Spring Training but with the strength of the Rangers infield – outside of 1B – he seems destined to open the year with Triple-A Round Rock. Reaching Triple-A at 24-years of age still gives him a good chance to make an impact at the major league level and he has the talent to do so.
In fact it was a surprise to me that the Twins didn’t add him to their 40-man roster to keep him around. Especially considering the issues they’ve had at both 2B and SS at the major league level. Twins prospect guru, Seth Stohs, was also surprised that Yangervis was allowed to seek employment elsewhere and had Solarte slotted as Minnesota’s 20th best prospect in his preliminary organizational rankings published October 14th.
The Twins loss, and dare I say mistake, is the Rangers gain.
Drafted by Boston in the 35th round of the 2010 draft, Brown (29) was spent the first 10 years of his career in the Red Sox system (2001-2010). He joined the Pirates organization for the 2011 season playing 54 games at Triple-A and another 11 in the majors.
Hernandez (27) spent the last 2 seasons in the Mets system including all of 2011 with Buffalo (AAA). Originally signed by the Braves, he’s also played for the Orioles and Royals. Luis effectively replaces Andres Blanco – who is a minor league FA himself this offseason – as an all-glove, no-bat Venezuelan SS.
Both Brown and Hernandez are destined to spend all of 2012 with Round Rock unless pressed into action due to a rash of injuries on the major league roster.
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