In Double-A in eighteen after twenty, Nick Solak put up a 19/21/.282 season in 126 games like en bee dee, and would’ve likely been called up to start the year in Tampa last year, or at worst a May/June call-up, but the Rays eat prospects for breakfast and poop out (around lunchtime) guys like Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson and Yandy Diaz and Willy Adames and Brandon Lowe and their entire lineup, so Solak (almost stutterer!) was shipped off to the Rangers, who have literally no one, for a middle reliever. This is Solak’s third team in three years, so the shine — thine? — might’ve worn off if he wasn’t a bat-first prospect to begin with — an at-first, bat-first prospect? Sure, defense is nice if, ya know, you’re trying to put together a real baseball team, but, luckily for us, we’re not billionaires (yeah, baby!) and we don’t have to put together a team that can field as well as hit, unless you’re in a Benjamin Netanyahu league, in which case be wary of Solak. So, what can we expect from Nick Solak in 2020 fantasy baseball?
In 2019 through two teams’ Triple-A affiliates and a brief call-up with the Rangers, Nick Solak’s numbers were 32 homers — take the R out of boring, because that is boing! — seven steals — you’re my daddy now! — and a .280-ish average (I say “ish” because I only do straight addition, and didn’t feel like figuring out his batting average). If this was merely a one-time breakout season from Solak, I’d still pay attention, but this is who he’s been now for his career. He also carries a 11+% walk rate and a manageable 20% K-rate. With 12 steals (seems impossible but who knows), and 25+ homers (might be more impossible, but, again, who knows) and those batted ball profile rates, Solak could squirm his way into a 27/14/.285 season and become the Rangers two-hole hitter. That’s de facto value! Narrator: Grey thought the best kind of value was de facto value. What I’m slightly surprised about, and which, honestly, has me a little troubled is why no one is talking about him? I don’t mind being on an island all by myself, but I had to go back to 2016 to find even a mention of Solak on Razzball. He didn’t make it into Prospect Mike or Prospect Ralph’s lists. He made Prospect Itch’s top 50 prospect list, but that was after Solak hit with the Rangers, so I think even he (She? It? Itch? They? Them?) would admit that Solak’s solid 2019 in the majors helped him get noticed. I’m doubting Solak simply because he was buried in the Yankees’ and then Rays’ systems, which was no fault of his, and he’s out of there now, and on the Rangers, who have, how do I say this politely, less. Would Solak be better known and coveted if he started his career in the Rangers’ system and stayed there the whole time, put up the numbers he did put up, then came to the majors and hit like he did? I’m guessing yes, but I don’t know because it’s an effin’ hypothetical! Why don’t you understand that?! For 2020, I’ll give Nick Solak projections of 77/22/64/.268/9 in 523 ABs with a chance for more. Actually, Nick Solak might not just be a rookie outlook, but might be my 1st fantasy baseball sleeper.