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Minor league spotlight: Sammy Solis

Nov 29, 2013, 10:42 AM EDT

File photo courtesy Bill Scheuerman File photo courtesy Bill Scheuerman

Age on Opening Day 2014: 25

How acquired: Draft (2nd round), June 2010

Position: Pitcher

Prospect Rank: No. 6 in Nats’ org. (Baseball America)

2013 Team/Level: Potomac Nationals (Single-A), Gulf Coast Nationals (Rookie), Mesa Solar Sox (AFL)

2013 Stats: 14 G, 13 GS, 2-1, 3.32 ERA, 59.2 IP, 59 H, 23 R, 22 ER, 3 HR, 19 BB, 43 SO, 3 WP, 1.307 WHIP (two teams)

2013 Analysis: Sammy Solis came back from Tommy John surgery after missing the entire 2012 season in late May with the Potomac Nationals, and managed 88 2/3 total innings this year. He started with the Potomac Nationals and made 13 starts there, made one appearance in the Gulf Coast League, and pitched seven times with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. There he went 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 29 innings pitched and helped raise his standing as a prospect within the organization.

The 6-foot-5 Solis made a statement in the AFL that he still holds potential as a top young lefty talent. He was put up against some of the best prospects in the game and proved he could hang. The AFL is also where he last pitched in 2011 just months before going under the knife. In 2011 he had a 4.50 ERA and 1.730 WHIP through seven starts, he was much better this year.

2014 Outlook: Solis was the next draft pick the Nats made after taking Bryce Harper in 2010 and still have high hopes he can make an impact in the big leagues. He’s 25 and has had Tommy John, so he’s a bit behind the curve. This year could be the year for Solis, however, as the Nats look to promote their next wave of young pitching.

Mike Rizzo told The Washington Post that Solis could fit into the equation as a reliever this season. Solis has been drafted and developed as a starter, but could fast forward his path to Washington if he can help fill their void of lefty relief pitchers. He’ll most certainly get a shot this season at the major league level and will have a good opportunity to stay. His endurance to also start could give the Nats a solid lefty longman option to pull from.

  1. Doc - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    if Sammy pitches in ST like he did in AFL, look for him to replace Det as a stater.

    Solis uses more pitches than Det, and at this point he probably has more endurance potential as a starter.

  2. sjm308 - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Doc: you might be correct but I would prefer to see the Nationals start our young guns in the pen the way the Cards and Rays have done for the past few years. Give them an inning or two where they are not going through the entire lineup but once and get them accustomed to the big show. Also lets them just rare back and fire and not pace themselves. Just my thought but it seems to work for others. I would actually not mind having both Solis and Det in the pen to start this year.

    • Doc - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:33 PM

      Anything that the Nats can replicate from the Cards, they should sjm!

  3. Hiram Hover - Nov 29, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Agree with sjm.

    Solis has never pitched above A ball–even Karns last year had 8-9 starts at AA before getting called up in late May (and that didn’t work out so well).

    In Solis’ case, there’s also conditioning to consider. Last year was his first year back from TJ, and he pitched 90IP or so between the minors and AFL, usually 4-5 innings a start.

    • David Proctor - Nov 29, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Yeah, I think Solis is better suited for the bullpen at this point. If he impresses, he can move to the rotation in 2015.

      As for Karns, I don’t ever see him being in the rotation. Bullpen, maybe. He can throw hard so if you let him air it all out in one inning, maybe he does well.

  4. Theophilus T.S. - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Actually, counting the AFL, Solis pitched around 128 innings. By the Nats +20% benchmark that would prime him for over 150 innings, a number he’s unlikely to reach in the minors let alone with the Nats as a left-handed specialist long-relief guy. (He’s also 25, which seems to be some magic milestone for injury-recovered pitchers.)

    I think the noveau idea of breaking him in as a reliever is wonderful. (I don’t know how to write sarcasm in HTML characters.) Rizzo finally catching up with his peers.

    • Theophilus T.S. - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:31 PM

      To be somewhat fairer to Rizzo, I don’t think they’ve had a prospect quite like Solis before: physically mature, a season+ beyond injury (by the time they realized what they had in Taylor Jordan he was already approaching his innings limit), “stuff” (not a Milone, Rosebaum junk-baller), passable command of the strike zone (not Karns).

    • Hiram Hover - Nov 29, 2013 at 2:59 PM

      The way the text of the article is worded a tad confusing on this – it mentions 88-2/3 IP but that already includes AFL (59-2/3 in minors, 29 in AFL)

      So adding another 20% gets him to 105-110 IP limit for 2014.

      I too like the idea of him seeing some BP time this year, but I would imagine he starts the season in the minors.

  5. Sonny G 10 - Nov 29, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    I wouldn’t mind seeing him in the BP just to see what he looks like. OTOH, I wouldn’t want his development as a starter be stymied in any way. We may want to replace Detwiler with Sammy.

  6. Eugene in Oregon - Nov 29, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    So I guess Mr. Rizzo didn’t find any Black Friday deals?

  7. Section 222 - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Has any Nats pitcher gone from A ball to the AFL to starting in the majors the next year?

    Didn’t think so. Even Stephen Strasburg pitched in AA and AAA first. Don’t rush Solis. Start him in AA, and if he succeeds, consider bringing him to the majors as a reliever if we need him. Or if you think he’s ready, bring him north in the bullpen. But in the rotation on Opening Day? I very much doubt it.

    • David Proctor - Nov 30, 2013 at 7:30 AM

      Yeah, there is no way that Solis is in the rotation on day 1.

      • Section 222 - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:38 PM

        Looking back, I was surprised to see that in 2007 John Lannan started the year in Potomac (8 starts), then went to Harrisburg (6) and Syracuse (7) before coming up to join the rotation July 26. (That was the game he got tossed from for hitting Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on back to back pitches.) Of course, our rotation that year included the likes of Mike Bacsik and Matt Chico.

        After pitching in the AFL in the fall of 2009, Strasburg started 2010 in Harrisburg (5), and Harrisburg (6) before joining the Nats on June 10.

        After making 20 starts for Harrisburg in 2008, JZnn made one start in Potomac in 2009 followed by one start in Syracuse before coming up to pitch for the Nats in his TJ surgery shortened 2009 season.

        Those are probably the most meteoric rises of Nats starters. I doubt Solis will come close to them, particularly in light of who is already in our rotation at this point.

  8. natsjackinfl - Nov 30, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    I would hope that Sammy makes the 25 man out of Spring Training as bullpen lefty but the first lefty starter out of the system will be Robbie Ray sometime in June.

    You heard it here first.

    • David Proctor - Nov 30, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      I believe you. Robbie Ray is further along than Solis is.

      • Doc - Nov 30, 2013 at 9:39 AM

        Robbie Ray vs. Solis–gonna be fun to watch.

        Eventually, Ray will probably be the Nats top lefty, the way he’s been making progress.

        Both will be in the Bigs.

    • sjm308 - Nov 30, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      Where do Mr.(s) Purke & Giolito fit in your time line?

      • David Proctor - Nov 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM

        Giolito isn’t a factor on the big league level until mid-2015 at the earliest and that would be a bit of a meteoric rise.

  9. nats128 - Nov 30, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Wouldnt it still be more prudent to start Solis in AA and see how he does and at least wait until May 1st before you bring him up to preserve another year of team control?

  10. trochlis318 - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    dang its so quiet, i got a feeling rizzo is doing somethign biiiiiiiiiiig

  11. edshelton2013 - Nov 30, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    Since Rizzo is not talking, let’s play armchair GM. The Tigers need a SS with Peralta gone and a left-handed bat to replace Fielder. What kind of package could we get for Desmond and Laroche?? They also need a closer. Throw in Storen and we’ve got ourselves a blockbuster.

    • David Proctor - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:06 PM

      As fun as playing armchair GM is, this one makes no sense.

      1. The Tigers don’t need a shortstop, they traded for Jose Iglesias last year. And gave up a good prospect to get him.

      2. Why would we trade Desmond? The Tigers have nothing to offer us for him.

      3. We’d be selling low on Storen.

      • Eugene in Oregon - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:22 PM

        Plus, the Tigers don’t need Adam LaRoche. Part of the reason they were willing to trade Prince Fielder was the need to return Miguel Cabrera to 1B. He’s the best hitter in the game, but he’s no longer a 3B (if he ever were). Even if Mr. LaRoche were coming off his 2012 season — which, of course, he isn’t — I can’t see the Tigers wanting a LH bat who can only play 1B.

  12. NatsLady - Nov 30, 2013 at 12:28 PM

    Not sure how much it means, but Sandy Leon is hitting in the Venezuelan Winter League. From both sides.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=l135&t=p_pbp&pid=506702

    • DaveB - Nov 30, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      Great to hear … seems like he had a real break-out season with the bat in 2012, and then was pretty awful last year. Seems like when that big a drop off occurs an injury is often involved, and we certainly can’t count on the Nats to be very open about those. Would be great for Sandy if this season was the anomaly instead of 2012.

  13. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 30, 2013 at 2:57 PM

    In the photo, is that a knuckleball or a “spike” curve?

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