The San Diego Padres traded third baseman Chase Headley to the New York Yankees today. In exchange, the Padres will receive infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitching prospect Rafael De Paula. Here's my take on the two new Padres.
Rafael De Paula, RHP: The Yankees signed De Paula out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He earned a $500,000 bonus but it took some doing: his identity was in question, with De Paula having used various names and birthdays since scouts started showing interest in him. Once his identity was finally settled, he was suspended for a year until eventually signing the Yankees contract.
He finally got to North America in 2013, posting a 2.94 ERA in 13 starts for Low-A Charleston last year, with a 96/23 K/BB in 64 innings. Promoted to High-A Tampa in the second half, he struggled with his command and his secondary pitches, resulting in a 6.06 ERA in 49 innings and a 50/30 K/BB. He's improved in 2014, lowering his ERA to 4.15 for Tampa with a 104/38 K/BB in 88 innings.
Listed at 6-2, 215, De Paula's current birthday is March 24, 1991. He had one of the top fastballs in the Yankees system, consistently in the mid-90s with movement. However, his slider and changeup are very erratic and he loses the touch with his mechanics at times, hampering his control. Many scouts see him as a future reliever due to his inconsistency with his secondary pitches.
Yangervis Solarte, INF: Solarte was originally signed by the Minnesota Twins back in 2005 out of Venezuela. His career was slowed by frequent injuries and he didn't see an actual full season of playing time until 2011. Interestingly, he had a great year hitting .329/.367/.466 for Double-A New Britain, then followed up with solid 2012 and 2013 seasons for Triple-A Round Rock after signing with the Texas Rangers as a free agent. The Yankees picked him up as a free agent this year. He was very hot early but has cooled down of late, hitting .254/.337/.381 in 75 games for New York. That is exactly in line with what you would expect given his minor league career.
Solarte is a switch-hitter, 5-11, 195, born July 7, 1987. He profiles as a utility player with defensive versatility.
ASSESSMENT: Solarte has his uses as a bench asset but De Paula is the key here. I like De Paula's arm strength and he can be overpowering when everything is going well, but it remains to be seen if he can be more than a bullpen arm; he'll need more refinement to start. If this is the best the Padres could get for him, it says a lot about how much Headley's stock has declined over the last two years.