On Saturday afternoon, General Manager A.J. Preller made the first of numerous expected moves to clear the current logjam within the Padres’ infield. While fans will surely miss Yangervis Solarte and his pure love of the game, the Padres brought in an exciting return for the 30-year-old infielder.
As first reported by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the San Diego Padres have traded beloved infielder, Yangervis Solarte, to the Toronto Blue Jays. With a plethora of infielders fighting for starting roles, and the inevitable call-up of star prospect infielder, Luis Urias, more trades are expected to occur before spring training.
In return for Solarte, the Padres acquired a potentially impressive haul. Leading that haul is a 21-year-old outfielder, Edward Olivares. Originally a free agent signing out of Venezuela, Olivares was the 18th ranked prospect within the Toronto farm system. MLB Pipeline immediately slotted Olivares 24th on the Padres’ Top 30 list.
Many fans who don’t follow the Toronto organization may not have heard about Olivares yet, perhaps because he was teammates with Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. last season. He now joins, arguably, the top minor league system in baseball. Don’t expect Olivares to continue to hide in the shadows. The right-hander is sure to make a name for himself with his new franchise.
Olivares had a highly successful season in 2017
Olivares began to display his potential in 2017 after spending three seasons in rookie ball. He played the majority of ‘17 in A-ball with Lansing before spending the final month of the season with High-A Dunedin.
Between two levels, Olivares combined for 54 extra-base hits (17 HR, 27 doubles, 10 triples), swiped 20 bags, and reached base in 33% of his at-bats.
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Unfortunately, his 19 games in High-A did not look very impressive, which one can attribute to exhaustion. Injuries limited Olivares to just 16 games in 2016. Coming back to compete in 120 games took a toll on the young hitter, fresh out of rookie ball. He’s had a full, healthy offseason as he looks to show consistency and improvement in 2018, most likely with High-A Lake Elsinore.
The toolsy, speedster brings a lot to the table
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required), Olivares is a “potential five-tool center fielder.” At ‘6’2” and 186 pounds, he doesn’t look like a guy who brings a lot of power to the plate, however, a lot of projection remains on his frame. Combine his increasing strength with the ability to get his hands through the zone quickly, Olivares should be a 20/20 guy at the major league level.
As Olivares moves up through the minors, he will need to show he can hit better than .269. His aggressive approach doesn’t lead to a lot of walks (just 30 in 494 at-bats last season). Evaluators also note his struggles with hitting pitches on the outer half of the plate. The good news is that, with only a few minor tweaks in his approach, Olivares has the tools to be a dangerous major league hitter.
What about his defense? His defense and arm strength are both rated as plus-abilities. While his bat carries a few uncertainties, his defense leaves no questions. His natural position is centerfield, and he has the range to be a gold-glove center fielder in the big leagues. However, the majority of his playing time has been in right field. With plus-arm strength, rated a 60 by MLB Pipeline, scouts feel comfortable with his ability to make throws to the plate or third base.
There’s no such thing as too many prospects
Taking a deeper look at Olivares shows a prospect with a high ceiling and potential for a high reward. This trade could prove to be a phenomenal get by AJ Preller. There’s also a lot of risk with the prospect, but it’s a risk worth taking. Solarte didn’t fit into the Padres’ plans for the future and a number of top infield prospects will be beating down the gates to Petco Park in the very near future.
To many, one immediate reaction to this deal likely was “another outfielder”? The truth is, a team can never have enough prospects at any position. Prospects are like playing the lottery, you will miss most of the time. Hit one time, though, and life becomes a lot easier.
It’s clear those who have followed his career believe he will have a successful career.