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Getting to CHS Field

Saints Sign Former Major League Catcher Jhonatan Solono, Infielder Matt Morales

ST. PAUL, MN July 3, 2019

St. Paul Saints catcher Jeremy Martinez is having an All-Star caliber season, but he has started 40 of 43 games behind the plate.  Looking to give him more of a respite from catching the Saints signed former Major Leaguer Jhonatan Solano to help alleviate the duties behind the dish.  In addition, with injuries to infielder Joey Wong and utility player Blake Schmit, the Saints also signed middle infielder Matt Morales.

 

          The 33-year-old Solano had his contract selected by the Washington Nationals last season, but was placed on the disabled list three days after getting the call up due to bone spurs in his right elbow and never played a game.  His last game action in the states (he played in the Dominican Winter League for a total of 13 games in 2017-18 and 2018-19) came at Triple-A Syracuse in 2017 where he hit .241 with two home runs and 19 RBI in 42 games.  He missed the final seven weeks of the season due to injury.

 

          Solano was signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2006 by the Nationals out of Columbia.  He hit .256 with 11 RBI in 37 games in the Gulf Coast League.  He threw out an impressive 42.9% of base stealers that season.

 

          In 2007 Solano spent the entire season at Single-A Hagerstown hitting .248 with three homers and 38 RBI in 83 games.  His most impressive game came on August 14 when he knocked in six.

 

          He began to move up the ranks of the organization in 2008 when he began with Hagerstown before was promoted to High-A Potomac a month into the season.  Solano hit .228 with two homers and 28 RBI in 89 games between the two stops.  He came through when it counted as he was selected the Championship Series MVP as the Potomac Nationals defeated the Myrtle Beach Pelicans three-games-to-one to claim the title.

 

          In 2009 Solano began the year with Double-A Harrisburg where he hit .280 with a home run and 11 RBI in 26 games and was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse at the beginning of June.  Despite hitting .202 with a home run and 17 RBI in 63 games, Solano made his mark on the organization and began to creep closer to the Major Leagues.

 

          Solano spent all of 2010 at Harrisburg and was solid hitting .252 with six home runs and 42 RBI in 90 games.  In 317 at bats he scored 28 runs, slugged 15 doubles, had a .302 on base percentage, and a .356 slugging percentage.  Solano hit safely in 11-straight from May 14-June 1.

 

          He finally spent a full-season at Triple-A in 2011 at Syracuse.  Solano put up impressive numbers hitting .275 with five home runs and 33 RBI in 78 games.  In 255 at bats he scored 27 runs, clubbed 14 doubles, a .325 on base percentage and a .388 slugging percentage.

 

          Solano’s Major League moment came in 2012.  After beginning the season at Syracuse, and despite missing five weeks due to injury from April 20-May 24, the Nationals called him up on May 29.  He played in 12 games hitting .314 with two home runs and six RBI.  He collected his first Major League hit in his first at bat, a pinch hit double in the ninth inning against Heath Bell on May 29 at Miami.  On June 12, Solano hit his first Major League home run in the seventh inning off of Henderson Alvarez in Toronto.  On July 19 Solano was placed on the disabled list with an oblique injury.  He spent two games in the Gulf Coast League and 11 games in Harrisburg on a rehab assignment to finish out the season.

 

          Solano spent considerably more time in the Majors in 2013.  He was called up to the Nationals from Syracuse on three separate occasions.  He played in 24 games for the Nationals hitting .146 with two RBI.  In his 40 games with Syracuse Solano hit .214 with 10 RBI.

 

          In 2014, Solano was selected to his first All-Star Game.  With Syracuse he hit .251 with career highs in home runs, 10, and RBI, 51, in 93 games.  In 343 at bats he scored 45 runs, smacked 15 doubles, one triple, a .305 on base percentage, and a .388 slugging percentage.  He participated in the Triple-A All-Star Game for the International League and went 1-2 with a home run and two RBI on July 16 in Durham.  He connected on home runs in back-to-back games for the first time in his career on June 2 and 5.  During that time he had an RBI in six of seven games from June 1-12 and had a multi-hit game in four straight from June 6-12.  The Chiefs reached the playoffs, but were swept in the semi-finals by the Pawtucket Red Sox.

 

          After nine seasons with the Nationals Solano was signed as a free agent by the Miami Marlins organization and spent the month of May in the Majors.  He went 1-20 in seven games.  Solano spent most of the season at Triple-A New Orleans where he hit .228 with three homers and 22 RBI in 55 games.

 

          The Nationals re-signed Solano in December of 2015 and he spent 2016 with Syracuse where he hit .225 with 22 RBI in 52 games.  He collected five RBI on May 25.

 

          The 26-year-old Morales was at Single-A Lexington in the South Atlantic League this season and was hitting .185 with five RBI in 19 games.  In 54 at bats he scored five runs, had two doubles, one triple, a .224 on base percentage and a .259 slugging percentage.

 

          Morales was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the 2015 draft out of Wellington Community (FL) HS, but did not sign.  He attended Palm Beach Community (FL) JC and was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 23rd round of the 2017 draft.  He was assigned to the Rookie Level Idaho Falls Chukars and had an impressive first season.  He hit .358 with one home run and 25 RBI in 37 games.  In 165 at bats he scored 31 runs, ripped 13 doubles, one triple, swiped 12 bases, had a .406 on base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage.  He had two eight game hitting streaks and had eight games of three or more hits including a career high five on August 16.  In that game he also collected a career high five RBI.  Morales doubled in back-to-back games three times and had a streak of three-straight from August 24-26.  He utilized his speed by swiping four bases on August 30 vs. Grand Junction and stole a base in three straight from September 6-8.

 

          In 2017 Morales began the season with Lexington and hit .198 with a home run and nine RBI in 38 games.  He was assigned to the Rookie Level Burlington Royals on July 23 and hit .212 with a home run and 10 RBI in 29 games.  He stole a base in three straight from August 23-26.

 

          In order to make room for Solano and Morales, the Saints traded outfielder Burt Reynolds to the Sioux Falls Canaries in exchange for the reversionary right to catcher Adrian Nieto (currently in the Miami Marlins organization) and a player to be named later.  They also released pitcher Mason McMahon.

 

          The Saints roster now stands at the league maximum 23, 12 position players and 11 pitchers.