Nationals' Prospect Sammy Solis Improves To (3-0) In Three AFL Starts

USA TODAY Sports

Sammy Solis appeared headed for Double-A after a strong showing at Low and High-A in Washington's system in 2011, but Tommy John surgery set the Nationals' 2010 2nd Round pick back a year in his development. Is Solis headed for his major league debut in 2014?

In 72 1/3 IP between the Gulf Coast, Carolina and Arizona Fall leagues since returning from Tommy John surgery and rehab this past May, 25-year-old Washington Nationals' prospect Sammy Solis has a 2.99 ERA, 27 walks (3.36 BB/9) and 57 Ks (7.09 K/9) after giving up a run on six hits in five innings pitched Monday night in AFL action in the 2010 2nd Round pick's third start of his third stint in the so-called "finishing school" for the game's top prospects.

"With Sam Solis and A.J. Cole, Robbie Ray. These guys are all pitching very well if not dominating at high levels of the minor leagues at a very, very young age." - Mike Rizzo on Nats' pitching depth on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.

Solis, a 6'5'' left-hander out of Avondale, Arizona and the University of San Diego, improved to (3-0) with a 1.42 ERA, four walks (2.84 BB/9) and 14 Ks (9.95 K/9) in three starts and 12 2/3 IP so far in AFL action when the Mesa Solar Sox beat the Surprise Saguaros 9-6 in Mesa, Arizona's HoHoKam Park.

Solis walked one and struck out four in the Solar Sox' win, throwing 73 pitches, 47 for strikes and inducing seven ground balls outs from the 21 batters he faced. After giving up a run on an RBI single in the second, Solis retired 12 of the next 14 batters he faced before leaving the game after the fifth with a 6-1 lead. Mesa took a 9-1 lead into the seventh. The Saguaros rallied with five runs late in the game, but fell short. The win left the Solar Sox 8-2-1 so far this Fall.

"[T]his guy could go quickly, and take off and be a real factor for us in the very near future." - Mike Rizzo on Sammy Solis in Nov. 2011

Solis, who signed for a $1M bonus after the Nationals selected him with the 51st overall pick of the 2010 Draft, first experienced soreness in his elbow toward the end of his second stint in the Arizona Fall League in the fall/winter of 2011.

Doctors recommended rest and a throwing program that winter, but after a few positive throwing sessions in the Spring of 2012, the left-hander was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. He returned to the mound in May of 2013, went on the DL in June with shoulder fatigue, but ended up pitching 57 2/3 innings at High-A Potomac, over which he had a 3.43 ERA, a 3.48 FIP, 19 walks (2.97 BB/9) and 40 Ks (6.24 K/9).

After pitching at both Class-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac in 2011 and going (6-2) with a 2.72 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 11 walks (1.76 BB/9) and 53 Ks (8.47 K/9) in ten starts and 56 1/3 IP with the P-Nats in his second stop that year, Solis appeared headed for Double-A Harrisburg in 2012 before he suffered the injury to his throwing elbow.

In spite of the injury causing him to miss the 2012 campaign, Solis still made Baseball America's list of the Nationals' top prospects last winter. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo, in an interview on 106.7 the FAN in D.C. this past August, talked about Solis as a part of the next wave of pitchers coming up through the Nationals' system.

"We're extremely proud of our young starting pitchers that are now at the Double-A level," Rizzo told hosts Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier. "When you look at a guy like Robbie Ray at 21 years old, A.J. Cole at 21 years old. Nathan Karns. Sam Solis. These guys are guys that you're going to be hearing about a lot in the very, very near future and it's just part of that what we've been calling the "Next Wave" of good prospects on their way to the big leagues."

Three of the four pitchers mentioned, with Karns the exception, are part of the Nats' 2010 Draft class. The Nationals showed a willingness to reach down to Double-A this season, bringing Nate Karns, Taylor Jordan and reliever Ian Krol up to the majors from Harrisburg to help in the majors. Will Solis become the first pitcher and second player from the Class of 2010 to make it to the majors at some point in 2014?

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