2006 Ranking: 20
Cardinal: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on January 14, 2005. 2006 AVG. AB H HR RBI R SB BB K OBP. SLG OPS
Jason Scott (NR): Shortly after Solano was signed by the Cardinals in January, 2005, I was told by Jeff Luhnow that he had talked to a scout in Colombia who believed the 16-year-old to be better than Edgar Renteria was at the same age. It seems now that everyone wants to compare Solano to the five-time All-Star. I hope that I haven't set the bar too high for him by reporting that.
In the two seasons since he signed, Solano has posted a .296 slugging percentage, having yet to hit a home run. A sprained ankle kept him out for most of the first month of the State College Spikes' 2006 season, causing some of the coaching staff to get down on him. He did manage to win them back, however, and the organization remains very high on him, but he is going to have to start showing some power to become a more valuable prospect to me.
On the other hand, there is still reason to be excited. He turns 19 later this month and already has two years of professional experience. He is also said to be very good defensively. A good 2007 season would easily put him in my top 40 for next year.
Leonda Markee (26): I am a bit baffled that Solano did not make two of my colleague's Top 40 lists at all. Last season's performance of .257/.339/.297/.636, split between rookie and short-A at age 17, made him the Birdhouse's 20th-ranked prospect. In 2006 he went .282/.341/.295/.637 at short-A at age 18. Solano also cut down his strikeouts from once every 6.5 at bats in 2005 to once every 8.8 at bats in 2006. His walk rate is still poor and he has not yet shown any power but he still has plenty of time to put it all together. Heck, Solano is a whopping three and one-half months older than Thomas Pham, just finished his second professional season in America and put together a better season at a higher level than did Pham. Yet Pham was ranked by three-of-four Birdhouse staff. I am not arguing against Pham but for Solano. I clearly think Solano should be on this list and am surprised that his ranking is not higher.
Ray Mileur (27): Signed by the Cardinals out of Columbia, at the ripe old age of 16, Solano is considered by some as being better than Edgar Renteria was at his age. Donovan's defensive skills and knowledge of the strike zone are advanced for a young player at his age.
Solano split time between Johnson City and New Jersey during the 2005 season, combining to hit .257 with 34 runs scored, nine doubles, and 22 RBI. In 44 games for the short-season State College Spikes in '06, the 18-year-old Solano hit a respectable .282, 0, 13 with a line of .341/.295/.637.
Solano ranked as high as #26 & #27 in Leonda Markee's and my personal rankings respectively, whereas he failed to crack the Top 40 rankings as submitted by Jason Scott and Brian Walton.
I'll admit, I'm intrigued by Solano's level of performance considering his age and playing in the states away from his home which is a big part of the basis for my higher ranking than two of my respected colleagues, but Solano will need to deliver on the field this season to continue to improve, to justify making anyone's Top Prospect list in 2007, including mine.
Brian Walton (NR): I moved Solano down my sheet this year partially due to his injuries this past season, despite his youth (18 at the time), tools and very, very good defense. I just haven't seen the results on offense – no power, with just two extra-base hits in 149 at-bats and little speed, either – only two stolen bases.
The organization really likes Solano, though, and there is still time to develop and get some weight on that 5'10", 185-pound frame. Perhaps he can still become a stand-out shortstop down the road.
STAFF COMMENTS KEY: Staff Member (Individual Ranking), NR = Not RatedTo see our entire list of 40 prospects as they are unveiled daily, click here.
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