The Dominican-born Soriano was signed by the New York Yankees
in September 1998
as a non-drafted free agent after spending the 1996 and '97 seasons in Japan. He quickly established himself as one of the premier prospects in a well-stocked farm system, and despite inquiries from other teams the Yankees steadfastly refused to part with him.
Though Derek Jeter was entrenched at Soriano's natural position of shortstop during spring training 2001, incumbent second baseman Chuck Knoblauch was still struggling with simple throws to first. In part due to Soriano's fine showing during exhibition games, manager Joe Torre handed Soriano the starting second base job and shifted Knoblauch to left field. (GL)