Nick Solak is a twenty-one-year-old second baseman out of the University of Louisville. The Yankees selected him Thursday night, with the 62nd overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He is a pure hitter, owning a career .347 batting average in 157 college games. The average should translate to professional ball as he has only struck out 64 times in 499 career ABs in college. Although he does not provide a ton of power, he is a prototypical 2B, standing at 5’11 and weighing 163 pounds. He will have to put on some weight as he develops, but he has the upside to be a very good hitter and a solid second baseman.
Q: First and foremost, congratulations on being selected in the second round by the New York Yankees. How did you find out that the Yankees were taking you with the 62nd Overall Pick and what was the experience like?
“A: We [Louisville], had three guys drafted in the 1st round. We had a draft party in the basement of our stadium. Everyone from the team was there and lot of guys families were there. My name popped up on the screen and Andy Pettitte announced it. I sat there for a second, in shock. I hugged my mom and teammates. It is a thrill and very humbling.”
Q: So, you did not know the Yankees had drafted you until you heard your name called on MLB Network?
“A: I did not know the Yankees were going to draft me before I heard my name on TV. I met with their area guy, Mike Gibbons, in the fall. The Yankees also brought a sport psychologist in, who I met with. I had a little bit of an inclination they were interested.”
Q: You mentioned you had been in contact with the Yankees prior to the draft. Did the seem to be the most interested team?
“A: The Yankees were in the top five of teams who seemed most interested. They seemed like they wanted me and it ended up being that way.”
Q: What was your reaction to the Yankees, such a storied franchise, drafting you?
“A: I sat down trying to fall asleep, but I was thinking about being drafted by the Yankees. They are such a prestigious organization, with so many titles. It is an honor to be drafted by them. I was thinking back, and some of my earliest memories were going to White Sox Spring Training games in Arizona. But I also have a memory of going to the Yankees Spring Training game in Tampa and watching Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. It was a really cool atmosphere, and out of all the Spring Training games, it felt most like a regular season game.”
Q: Who did you speak to? What did they say to you?
“A: Right after I was drafted, Mike Gibbons called and congratulated me. He mentioned the importance of tradition and finishing on a strong note at Louisville. He said that we will be in touch.”
Q: Yankee fans are very interested in learning about the newest member of their organization. Can you give them a brief scouting report on yourself, as a ballplayer?
“A: I think I am a grinder. The type of baseball player who will show up every single day and compete and help the team win in different ways whether it is hitting balls into the gap or stealing bases. And defensively, making plays at second base and trying to prevent runs out there. I think I have shown I can be a model of consistency. You know what you’re going to get.”
Q: A lot of other players from Louisville have already been drafted…What has it been like playing with such a talented group of guys and being part of such great teams?
“A: Ever since I stepped foot at Louisville, I have played with really high draft picks and talented baseball players. [They] have taught me so much about the game. It has made me a lot better as a baseball player. I think you learn so much about yourself as a player in college. At the same time, when you go off to Pro Ball, you always have those guys to lean on and you have the other guys too, who I can reach out to and pick their brains and see where they are at. I think that is what you can take from the guys you have played with before you.”
Q: What is the biggest difference entering Pro Ball out of college, instead of High School?
“A: The biggest thing is you’re more mature. You’ve played more and faced better competition. More importantly, going to three years of college helps your mental state and mental ability. One of the biggest things is you’re playing in the postseason and in important games and learn how to handle those situations. So, to come from a school such as Louisville and to go into an organization such as the Yankees, who stress the important of winning, it sets you up well.”
Q: After being selected by the Yankees, how do you focus on Louisville’s upcoming appearance in the in the postseason? And how do you handle Louisville coming into the tournaments as one of the favorites to win?
“A: We start our Super Regional this weekend. When it comes down to it, we had seven guys picked in the top 115 picks and all the guys understand that even more important than your draft pick, accolades, and awards, is the that this group of guys will be remembered for how well we performed and, ultimately, the team goal is to win the National Championship. The draft is a thrill and very exciting, but everybody is still focused on the team and our ultimate goal.”
Q: What does it mean to you to be named Third-Team All-America and Second-Team All-ACC selection as a junior in 2016.
“A: It is definitely an honor. You play with a lot of great players and against a lot of great competition and to help the team win is the ultimate goal. To help the team win, at the end of the day, your numbers hopefully turn out to be good. It is definitely an honor to be named an All-American and ALL-ACC. It shows a lot of hard work pays off.”
Q: What is the coolest thing that has happened to you since being drafted by the Yankees? Any interesting stories? Has anyone unexpected reached out to you?
“A: Mark Payton texted me, which is really cool. He is in AA with Trenton right now. He is a guy I have looked up to since I was a Freshman in High School. I have always looked up to him. He is grinding his way through the Yankees organization and getting a text from him was really cool.”
Q: Do you expect to sign soon or do you think it will be a prolonged process?
“A: Once my season ends here, I will be excited and ready to sign and start my professional career.”
Q: Who do you model your game after?
“A: Ian Kinsler has always been one of my favorite players that I model my game after. He is scrappy and a hard working second baseman who will score runs and play good defense. And I do not know if I am allowed to say this, but I also model my game after Dustin Pedroia. And Derek Jeter, of course. The guys that are winners and fun to watch play the game.”
Q: Who has been the most influential person/people in your baseball career?
“A: I would probably say my parents. They have been so supportive for my baseball career. Always looked at opportunities for me to keep improving and keep playing. And they helped find great coaches.”
Q: Did you play any other sports besides baseball?
“A: I played High School hockey until sophomore year. Hock and baseball are my two sports. After Sophomore year, I knew that if I wanted to pursue baseball in college, I had to drop Hockey. I love to follow Hockey and I am a huge Blackhawks fan.”
Q: So, who do you think will win the Stanley Cup?
“A: The Penguins are looking hard to beat and my sister goes to school in Pittsburgh. She brought a Penguins jersey home for me. I can’t really wear it, though.”