Solak thrilled by prospect of donning pinstripes

Solak thrilled by prospect of donning pinstripes

NEW YORK -- In the gleeful moments after hearing Andy Pettitte call his name in the second round of the MLB Draft, Nick Solak first hugged his mom and many of his University of Louisville teammates, then thought back to his official introduction to the intensity of the Yankees universe -- a pilgrimage to the team's Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla.

"I vividly remember going to a Yankees game at Steinbrenner Field. I remember the atmosphere being so electric," Solak said. "We were all sitting there, like, 'This is a Spring Training game, and they're setting fireworks off when you hit a home run!' It was so incredible. You almost get chills sitting there; the fans and players, it seems so important to them. That was a really cool experience."

Though the Woodridge, Ill., native grew up cheering for the White Sox, he refused to leave Yankees territory that afternoon without plucking a Derek Jeter replica jersey from the stadium gift shop. If all goes according to plan, he'll soon be picking up a team-issued version for his own use.

Selected in the second round on Thursday with the 62nd overall pick in the MLB Draft, Solak said that he anticipates signing shortly after the Cardinals' season ends -- they play in the NCAA Super Regional this weekend against UC-Santa Barbara.

Prep pitcher opens Day 2 of Yankees' Draft

"When our college season is over, I think I'll be ready to sign, excited to sign and start my professional career," Solak said.

A third-team All-American, the second baseman is regarded as one of the better offensive players in the collegiate ranks, thanks to a line-drive approach that creates consistent contact in the middle of the field and good instincts that complement his speed on the basepaths. He models his game after Ian Kinsler.

"Solak is a really accomplished hitter," said Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees' vice president of domestic amateur scouting. "He makes hard contact, he walks, he has plate discipline and he's tough. He's also a plus runner, with tools to stand on in the middle of the diamond."

The 21-year-old Solak was the fourth Louisville player to be selected on Thursday, joining Corey Ray (Brewers, fifth overall), Zach Burdi (White Sox, 26th overall) and Will Smith (Dodgers, 32nd overall).

"This is by far the most talented team I think we've ever had, and there have been so many talented players to play at Louisville," Solak said. "For so many guys to come together at the same time on one team is very impressive."

Batting .455 through the first 22 games of his junior season, Solak missed a month as a result of a pitch that hit him on the right wrist. Though his production dipped following the injury, he still managed to bat .380 with five home runs and 29 RBIs in 45 games.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was tabbed as the No. 147 overall prospect in MLB.com's pre-Draft rankings. Solak has earned Third-Team All-America honors from Baseball America and Second-Team All-ACC accolades this season. He also showed promise swinging a wood bat, earning selection as an All-Star starter in the Cape Cod League while ranking fourth with a .329 average.

"I think I just showed, metal or wood, I have a very consistent swing that's going to play with whatever I'm holding in my hand," Solak said. "Hitting the ball, line drive, flat swing, gap to gap and driving in runs when I can. Just being a productive offensive player that helps the team win and shows up every day."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.