Acquired from Tampa Bay in exchange for RHP Peter Fairbanks, Solak showed the type of potential he carries at the plate with the Rangers:
116 At Bats
.293 Batting Average (34 Hits)
5 Home Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.393 On Base Percentage
.491 Slugging Percentage
.354 Batting Average on Balls in Play
He showed even more power at Triple-A, splitting time between two different teams, as he hit .289 with 27 HR and 74 RBI over 419 AB. He’s always shown some upside, though you could argue whether or not he’s capable of maintaining the 27.6% HR/FB that he posted in the minors last season.
A regression there would have an impact on his average, especially since he is unlikely to maintain that type of BABIP. He simply wasn’t hitting the ball hard enough to justify it (28.7% Hard%), especially while also taking a pull heavy approach (21.8% Oppo%). It was a small sample size and he did display a solid approach, which helps:
- SwStr% – 8.5%
- O-Swing% – 26.3%
At Triple-A he had a 10.4% SwStr%, and as opposing pitchers get more information on his approach it’s possible that the swing and miss gets exposed a bit more. That’s not to say that he’s going to be a significant issue, but it’ll be one to watch.
It’s also important to watch how he performs against non-fastballs, considering he hit .439 with 3 HR against fourseam fastballs last season. While he did hit 2 HR against changeups, his results against breaking balls and offspeed pitches were hardly anything to excite us (AVG/SLG):
- Changeups – .235/.706
- Sliders – .080/.120
- Curveballs – .333/.444
He’s proven capable of hitting throughout his minor league career, and he also has stolen as many as 21 bases (in ’18). Even with a step back in his power he has the potential to be a 20/10 player, and he could be even more than that. That’s more than enough, especially for a player who played 2B and 3B in the Majors while also spending a little bit of time in the outfield.
Could the strikeouts rise? Perhaps, but not enough to be a serious concern. Expecting a .265ish hitter with power and speed is enough to put him on radars for the back of your roster. He may not be an elite player, but there’s enough to make him an ideal target (with the potential to rise into a fairly prominent role).
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball