This afternoon, the Padres traded third baseman Yangervis Solarte to the Toronto Blue Jays for a pair of prospects, ending Solarte’s three-and-a-half year tenure in San Diego. In return, the Friars received 21-year-old outfielder Edward Olivares and 24-year-old relief pitcher Jared Carkuff.
With the Padres getting Chase Headley back into the fold, third base had become a bit of a logjam, with Solarte and former Cubs’ prospect Christian Villanueva also looking for playing time (to say nothing of utilityman Cory Spangenberg). A move was inevitable, and it’s still not a guarantee that Headley will be with the team come Opening Day.
The most interesting piece of the trade coming to San Diego is Olivares, who was the 18th ranked prospect in the Blue Jays’ farm system by MLB Pipeline before the move (they have since slotted him into the 24th position for the Padres). The young Venezuelan was signed by Toronto in 2014, and spent most of 2017 in Single-A Lansing, with a late-season promotion to High-A Dunedin. He led Lansing in most counting stats, including runs (82), RBI (65), HR (17), hits (118), and total bases (213), though high-profile teammates Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette both received promotions to High-A in the middle of the season. Overall, he put together a .277/.330/.500 hitting line in 101 Midwest League games.
In watching a bit of video and reading a handful of tweets about the 6-foot-2, 186-pound outfielder (who split time between center field and right field in Single-A, but only played center and DH at High-A), he can generate plenty of bat speed and has a good loft in his swing (for all those launch angle enthusiasts out there). Though a little lanky, he’s still got time to for his frame to fill out and perhaps tap into more in-game power. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen says that he has a plus arm and plus speed, and other reports say that he can stick in center.
Despite owning a top five farm system, the addition of Olivares to the Padres organization is an important one. While the pitching depth is a strength, and they have some exciting middle infielders in their teens, there is very little to get excited about in terms of outfield prospects at the upper levels. Franchy Cordero will likely spend most of the year in the big leagues, and Franmil Reyes wasn’t enticing enough to get added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 Draft. Other than that, Michael Gettys has continued to struggle at Lake Elsinore (37.2% K rate), Jorge Oña‘s career didn’t get off to a hot start in Fort Wayne (.405 slugging percentage), and Mason House and Tirso Ornelas are still very young (19 and 17 years old, respectively). And, unlike many hitters in the Padres system, Olivares put together a very respectable 18.3% K rate last year.
While not a highly ranked prospect with Toronto, Preller has shown multiple times that he and his team have a good eye on young, underrated prospects. Look for Olivares to be a part of an exciting Lake Elsinore Storm team next spring, likely joined by Oña, Hudson Potts, and Buddy Reed, among others.
Coming to San Diego with Olivares is Carkuff, a righty reliever who spent time in four leagues last year (Low-A, Single-A, High-A, and Triple-A). Drafted in the 35th round of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Tennessee native combined to put together a 3.86 ERA in 63 innings (across 34 games). He was used primarily as a middle innings guy at the beginning of the year in High-A but was moved to more of a closer role after a demotion to Single-A, where he earned seven of his eight saves on the year. A 7.3 K/9 rate isn’t much to write home about, especially for a relief pitcher, but this past year he developed a changeup to go along with his fastball/slider repertoire, and he was a Gulf Coast League All-Star in 2016.
2018 will be an interesting year for relievers in the Padres system, as Trey Wingenter, Hansel Rodriguez, and Andres Munoz take their next steps. Time will tell how Carkuff stacks up against them, as well as other minor league arms like T.J. Weir, Adam Cimber, Eric Yardley, and Brad Wieck.