Nationals prospect Solis impresses in AFL

Nationals prospect Solis impresses in AFL
November 15, 2013, 9:30 am
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Construction for Nats youth baseball academy nearly complete

We haven’t given as much attention this year to the Arizona Fall League as in years past — that’s unfortunately what happens when there are no Nationals prospects the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper or Anthony Rendon participating — but there have been some notable performances out west over the last month.

Beginning with Sammy Solis.

The left-hander just wrapped up an impressive AFL season yesterday with five innings of 1-run ball, helping lead the Mesa Solar Sox to a 9-3 victory over the Glendale Desert Dogs that clinched a division title and placed his club in Saturday’s league championship game.

This was merely the continuation of a stellar fall for Solis, who went 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA in seven starts. He struck out 29 batters while walking only seven in 29 innings of work. He allowed one or fewer earned runs in six of his seven starts. Scouts noted in particular his quick delivery to the plate, making it all the more difficult for baserunners to steal off him.

The Nationals’ second pick in the 2010 draft (after Harper) out of the University of San Diego, Solis was headed on a fast track to D.C. before he tore his elbow ligament during spring training 2012 and missed that entire season following Tommy John surgery.

Now healthy, the left-hander is turning heads and trying to get back on that fast track to the big leagues. He posted a 3.32 ERA in 14 games this season (13 of them for Class A Potomac) and proved he had fully recovered from the injury.

Solis, rated by Baseball America as the Nationals’ No. 6 prospect, will likely open 2014 at Class AA Harrisburg, but the organization won’t hesitate to promote him quickly through the rest of their farm system if he continues to succeed and stays healthy. He’s already 25 years old, so there’s a little bit of a time crunch here.

One possible method to bring Solis along quicker: Let him debut in the majors as a reliever, an idea general manager Mike Rizzo floated to the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore earlier this week. It’s an intriguing possibility, especially given the Nationals’ need for left-handed relief.

Solis will need to prove he can continue to succeed in the upper levels of the minors, but his performance this fall in Arizona against elite prospects certainly offers a glimpse into his chances.