In the midst of his first professional season in the United States, Solarte, now 18 years old, explained through a translator that he was able to straighten out some issues during Extended Spring Training.
"When I first got here, my mechanics were a little off," Solarte said. "I would miss a spot here or there. Now I'm getting a lot better and am very happy that I've made improvements."
Solarte clarified that he was working on throwing in a straight line and getting his arm up during his delivery, both points that Blue Jays pitching coach Willie Collazo touched up on.
"He [Solarte] was stepping across his body, which will make the arm a little to the side instead of getting on top of the ball. We were working on that when he first got here and he has put it all together.
"It's been paying off right now for him," Collazo continued. "It's just little things like that which have been helping him and we like to see those types of things."
In addition to tightening up his delivery, Solarte has been working on adding a slider to his repertoire. He has a fastball that ranges between 87 and 90 MPH, a changeup that sits between 78 and 81 MPH, and a sinker, which Solarte feels is his best pitch.
Collazo praised Solarte, who is primarily a groundball pitcher, about his willingness to let batter put the ball in play.
"He's pitching to contact and not afraid of getting hit. The problem when you're nipping and start trying to hit the corners is when you don't hit it, you fall behind. Then you throw it down the middle and you get hit hard. That's the good thing about Solarte – he's not afraid of getting hit and making the guy swing.
"What we like to see here is cut down the walks and I think he's done a pretty good job of that."
The improvements made by Solarte this season have been evident on the field. Albeit in an incredibly small sample, Solarte has walked just five batters in six games after averaging 3.07 walks per nine innings in the DSL last season.
Collazo has been impressed by the skills and raw talent that Solarte possesses and stressed that the main focus for the hurler this year is to feel comfortable and get more reps.
"He just needs to repeat himself everyday. Sometimes he just forgets and you have to get down on top of him. I'll have to say ‘hey listen, you have to get your arm up, stay in a line.' It's just little things like that.
"As soon as he repeats things over and over, I think that he can get out of here because he has good stuff."
Earning a promotion is a definite goal for Solarte this year, as he is excited about the strides and progress he has made since joining the Blue Jays organization.
"This time last year, I was in the Dominican and this is only my second year as a professional and I'm already here in the United States. I'm just happy to keep moving up," Solarte concluded.
DUNEDIN, FL - Since joining the Blue Jays organization, Venezuelan pitcher Alejandro Solarte has delivered results. As a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League last season, Solarte allowed just ten hits in 29 and 1/3 innings while posting a 1.53 ERA. This year, the 6-foot-4 left-hander has given up just seven runs in six games with the GCL Blue Jays.
Alejandro Solarte has been opening up some eyes in the Toronto organization the past two years.
Dunedin Beat Writer
Solarte has allowed 1 run or less in 6 of 7 games
Jul 28, 2013