Yangervis Solarte, the fan favorite who won the final roster spot in Spring Training due to his hot bat, was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.
Solarte began the season on a tear at the plate, and continued his hot hitting through the first week of June, leading many fans to believe the Yankees had found a late-blooming diamond in the rough. However, he has hit just .073 (3-for-41) over his last 14 games, prompting the Yankees to search for another answer in a platoon with Kelly Johnson at third base.
The Yankees are hoping that the answer is utility infielder Zelous Wheeler. Wheeler, 27, entered the season as a career minor-leaguer before being pulled in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s Triple-A game and the subsequent report by beat writer Donnie Collins that the move was a promotion, not an injury as initially believed. A former 19th-round draft choice of the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2007 draft, Wheeler has spent eight seasons in the minor leagues with three different organizations.
With Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, Wheeler has primarily played third base and shortstop while hitting .299 with seven home runs and 31 RBIs. Perhaps even more impressively, Wheeler has hit .348 (24-for-69) and slugged .522 against left-handed pitching in the International League.
Needing to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated infielder Dean Anna for assignment. Anna has been on Scranton/Wilkes-Barre’s disabled list and had hit just .192 in 36 games with the Triple-A affiliate.