Yangervis Solarte was one of the Yankees’ biggest bright spots early on this season, coming out of nowhere to make the team as a 26-year-old career minor leaguer, grabbing hold of the starting job at third base, and hitting .300 with six homers and an .834 OPS in 49 games through April and May.
Unfortunately he’s hit just .162 in 22 games since June 1, including his current 3-for-41 (.073) slump, and today the Yankees decided to demote Solarte back to Triple-A.
Solarte’s overall numbers are still pretty solid with a .266 batting average, .343 on-base percentage, and .736 OPS, which is actually the fourth-best mark on the Yankees behind Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, and Jacoby Ellsbury (and ahead of, among others, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, and Ichiro Suzuki).
He deserves another shot at some point, but in the meantime the Yankees have called up 27-year-old career minor leaguer Zelous Wheeler, a utility man hitting .299 with seven homers and an .834 OPS in 66 games at Triple-A.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.