This season has seen some strong debuts thus far come out of the second round. The Atlanta Braves’ Kyle Muller and the Chicago White Sox’s Alec Hansen have been nothing short of sensational on the mound. The New York Yankees have a second baseman making some noise in the NYPL as Nick Solak is getting it done at the plate.
Solak was the 62nd overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He spent a little bit of time everywhere while at Louisville, playing designated hitter as a freshman, then some outfield as a sophomore before settling in at second base in his junior season.
What a junior season it was. After a big summer on the Cape, he earned Second-Team All-ACC honors behind an All-American season that saw him slash .376/.470/.564 with five home runs while going 9-for-12 on the base paths. He showed off his advanced plate sills as well, posting a 22-to-28 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He became part of a Louisville team that was highly touted on draft day.
Corey Ray. Zack Burdi. Will Smith. One by one, his teammates began going off the board as they watched together at Louisville on MLB TV.
“We had a ton of guys at Louisville go pretty high in that first day,” Solak said. “We were all at our field, down in the clubhouse. All the guys on the team were there, a bunch of the guys’ families and stuff, so it was a really cool experience to see guys like Corey Ray and Zack Burdi and Will Smith all get picked up. I came in with those guys as a freshman, they’re my really good buddies, so it was awesome to watch them get picked.
Then a little later in the night, and I got picked by the Yankees. It was a surreal moment. Andy Pettitte walked out there to announce my name. All the guys were down in the basement cheering. My mom was there and I hugged her. It was an awesome experience to get picked by the New York Yankees, they’re a historic and storied franchise that’s all about winning championships.”
Despite Solak seemingly putting college behind him and excelling in pro ball from the day he stepped on the field, he understands where he came from and how he got to where he is, and that is a New York-Penn League All-Star second baseman. He speaks fondly of the program that helped shape him into the hitter he has become.
“A lot of those guys weren’t drafted out of high school,” Solak said of his teammates. “I think that says a lot about the development that the entire Louisville baseball program has going on between the coaching staff, strength wise, even academically. I loved my experience at Louisville. I got to play in the College World Series, two Super Regionals, played with a lot of great players and for a great coaching staff. One of these days they’re going to win a national championship and I’m going to be able to say I was so proud to wear that jersey for three years.”
He made his professional debut on June 23, and made it look quite easy. He walked in his first at bat, had an RBI single in the seventh and scored three runs in his first career game. He then began his career hitting in nine consecutive games.
“I showed up with an attitude that I was going to play hard, work hard and prepare to play, and it helped me in those beginning games with the adjustments I had to make,” Solak said. “Going back to playing summer ball played a big role. It’s a good snapshot of minor league life. Playing everyday, playing against good competition. I think that helped me have an idea of what I needed to do everyday to show up to the ballpark ready to play and compete.”
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