Jim Callis of MLB Pipeline announced that outfielder Alerick Soularie has signed a major league deal with the Minnesota Twins. Callis reports the deal is for $900,000. That mark falls just under the slot value. The former Tennessee Volunteer was selected as the 59th overall pick.
2nd-rder Alerick Soularie signs with @Twins for $900k (slot 59 value = $1,185,500). Tennessee OF, track record of hitting everywhere he goes, solid raw power too, probably fits best in LF but Volunteers did try him at 2B during the fall. @MLBDraft
— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) June 19, 2020
The signing marks the second time in as many days that a Vol draftee has inked a deal with an MLB team. On Wednesday, Zach Daniels became the first to do so by signing with the Houston Astros.
In Soularie, the Twins are getting a versatile player with a ton of power in the box. As a sophomore, the Texas native led the team in batting average by hitting .357. He also drove in 11 HR and 46 RBI in 2019.
After starting his junior season in a slump, Tennessee’s standout quickly found his groove at the plate. Soularie began the 2020 season by going hitless in his first 13 at-bats. However, his last 10 games revealed vast signs of improvement. During that stretch, Soularie blasted five home runs and compiled six multi-hit games. He ended the shortened season with a .267 batting average while driving in 17 runs. His five homers led the team.
So what does this signing mean for Minnesota?
It means that with the 59th pick of the MLB Draft, the Twins selected a very valuable commodity. The pick could also render striking similarities of a current Minnesota big-leaguer that, like Soularie, played in the SEC.
A Lofty Comparison
The Twins may not reap the full reward of having a player like Josh Donaldson due to the pandemic and a looming CBA in the winter of 2021. But it is clear what kind of production they would like to get from that spot in the lineup. After an injury-shortened year in 2018, Donaldson found resurgence in a one-year stint with the Atlanta Braves. The slugger posted a .259 batting average while hitting 37 home runs. He drove in 94 runs and posted an OPS of .900.
While Minnesota isn’t expecting that type of production from Soularie anytime soon, it is fair to question whether the second-round pick can fill Donaldson’s void down the road. Judging by their college numbers and proven versatility, the two are more alike than what meets the eye. For comparison, the nine-year veteran was selected 48th overall in the 2007 Amateur Draft.
Soularie ended his Tennessee career with a .336 BA, to go along with a .586 slugging percentage. Donaldson hit .313 during his last two years at Auburn while posting a .539 slugging percentage. Both players were able to draw a fielding percentage of .955 or higher while playing multiple positions in the SEC. Donaldson even pitched in a game for the Tigers his freshman year. The veteran is signed through 2023 with a team option for the following year. When that offseason approaches, Donaldson will be 38 years old.
Vitello Points to Versatility
The signing of Soularie gives the Twins organization time to develop what is already a powerful bat and superb athlete. Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello says Minnesota sought out the utility man because of “all the possibilities.”
Vitello went on The Drive on Friday to discuss Vol baseball and the latest signings of his former players. The coach points out Soularie’s ability to multiple positions as an attractive measure. “I think (Twins) are really encouraged by the fact that he can play on the infield somewhere, in particular second base. I think he can do it,” Vitello said. Soularie played in the outfield as well as making some appearances as a second baseman during his Tennessee career.
While there may not be an immediate impact from Soularie, The Twins can expect a stellar athlete that draws comparisons to a former MVP who they aggressively pursued in free agency. With time on their side, Minnesota has the convenience of instructing the former Vol at what ever position they deem fit. After an exhausting pandemic and a daunting CBA ahead, the Twins should be in good shape whether Soularie replaces a former MVP or not.