February 23, 2012; Melbourne, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) and teammates Gio Gonzalez (47) and Chien-Ming Wang (40) and Ross Detwiler (48) and Craig Stammen (35) get instructions on the mound from coack Mark Grater(44) during camp at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-US PRESSWIRE
23-year-old 2010 2nd Round pick Sammy Solis pitched in front of D.C. GM Mike Rizzo in the Arizona Fall League this past November, and the Nats' general manager told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern he was impressed with what he saw from the 6'5'', 230lb lefty. "He was 93-96," Rizzo said, "He's got a plus changeup. We're revamping, taking him from a spiked curve ball, which he had trouble commanding to a more traditional curve ball, and if that becomes a useable pitch for him, this guy could go quickly, and take off and be a real factor for us in the very near future."
Solis started his first full pro season with a (2-1) record, a 4.02 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 40 K's (8.93 K/9) and 12 walks (2.68 BB/9) in seven starts and 40.1 IP for the Class-A Hagerstown Suns then moved up to Class-A Potomac where he was (6-2) with a 2.72 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 53 K's (8.47 K/9) and 11 walks (1.76 BB/9) in 10 starts and 56.1 IP. Solis, who went to the Arizona Fall League in 2010 after just 4.0 IP as a pro, was (1-0) with a 3.80 ERA, seven walks and 12 K's in six games, five starts and 23.2 IP the first time around, and he finished his second AFL stint with a 4.50 ERA, 16 walks and 25 K's in seven starts and 26.0 IP over which he gave up 29 hits and 15 runs, 13 earned. At the end of the 2011 Arizona Fall League season, however, Solis experienced discomfort in his left elbow...
Washington Times' writer Amanda Comak, in a 12/5/11 article entitled, "Nationals concerned about Solis’ elbow", reported that Solis had seen both team doctor Wiemi Douoguih and "renowned orthopedic surgeon Lewis Yocum," with D.C. GM Mike Rizzo telling the Times' reporter, "'We don’t have a final diagnosis for him but we’re concerned enough to send him to two doctors.'" The Nats' general manager said the team was concerned, but wasn't thinking Tommy John surgery at that point. Solis was shut down for the winter, with Nats' Director of Player Development Doug Harris telling MASN's Byron Kerr the left-hander was just resting his elbow. "'We will put him on a timeline closer to spring training,'" Harris said, "'We are designing a throwing program structured specifically for Solis.'"
Now that Spring Training has started, Solis is taking part in the Nationals' accelerated Spring Training along with 2011 1st Round pick Alex Meyer, 2010 Draft pick Robbie Ray, fellow lefties Danny Rosenbaum and Jack McGeary and others. The Nats' GM told the Washington Times' Amanda Comak on Thursday, as quoted in an article entitled, "Notes from the Nationals' Thursday workout", that after Solis had visited doctors this winter, there had been, "'... a little bit of difference of opinion in the doctors so we had him rest over the winter, shut him down and see what happens. He'll probably be (a little behind) if all goes well.'"
Solis was the top-rated left-handed prospect in the Nats' system on ESPN.com's Keith Law's 2012 Nats' prospect list. Baseball America had Solis behind only 2011 3rd Round pick Matt Purke as the second-best left-hander in the Nationals' organization on their updated 2012 Prospect List. MLB.com's scouts had Solis 4th overall as the best left-hander in Washington's system in their 2012 rankings. "Solis has always had a plus changeup, a very good breaking ball and outstanding fastball command," the MLB.com write-up on Solis says, and, "He's added some velocity to that heater giving him the chance to be even more dominant," if he can stay healthy, which they note he's had a hard time doing thus far.
MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo compiled a master list of baseball's best prospects by combining his own rankings with those posted by Mr. Law, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. Of 138 prospects who appeared on the lists, Solis ended up ranked 124th overall, ahead of Matt Purke as the top left-hander from the Nats' organization. Solis has been called a quick-to-the-majors-type pitcher since he was selected by the Nationals with the 51st overall pick in 2012. Mike Rizzo named the lefty as one of the pitchers who made the team comfortable trading some of their top pitching prospects for Gio Gonzalez this winter. The next few weeks should determine what the future holds for the left-hander who was on the fast track until the elbow injury slowed him down. Does he get shut down at some point this Spring if issues come up? Will Solis stay healthy and start the season at Double-A? Add it to the list of Spring Training storylines to follow...