Left-hander Sammy Solis put forth a quality debut Saturday in the Arizona Fall League as Scottsdale beat Peoria 6-4 with five runs in the seventh inning.
Derek Norris caught for Solis and went 2-for-4 with a run and a two-out RBI. Stephen Lombardozzi went 1-for-3 with a double and two runs.
Adam Carr pitched two innings of scoreless ball with a walk and a strikeout to earn the victory.
Solis threw three innings, allowed just two hits and one run, one walk, one strikeout and picked off a runner at first base.
It was a good start for Solis against a much higher level of competition than he faced in the instructional league last week in Florida.
“He is pretty athletic for his size,” Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart said. “He has a good feel for his fastball, changeup and knuckle curve. He mixes those pitches very well. He demonstrates poise that is off the charts. Guys on base don’t rattle him. He acts like he has done it before.”
Menhart says the intangibles that normally might not be apparent to scouts stand out in a pitcher with the experience that Solis possesses.
“His poise and confidence are attributes that some scouts can overlook. It is hard for scouts to see when a player has the right mindset and awareness on the hill to be very good. That is difficult for scouts to pinpoint. You can see Solis has this when you speak to him. This kid shows me that he has it all.”
So could Solis move up the Nats system quickly because of his experience in college and in the Arizona Fall league - similar to another Southern California native?
“He could start at Potomac, maybe higher, depending on how his AFL experience goes,” Menhart said. “If he does well, he could have a similar path (to the majors) as did Stephen Strasburg.
“Solis is not as highly touted, but he has a similar makeup to Strasburg. He could benefit from a year at Potomac, but it truly depends on the next month in Arizona against premiere offensive prospects.”
Menhart says that the AFL is the best test for up-and-coming pitchers because most starters have hit their innings maximums and are not sent to Arizona.
When you have a kid like Solis who has innings to spare, it is a perfect chance to see what he can do against the best prospects.
“If you can find a pitcher who has success against AFL hitters, you need to take a closer look - 70 percent of prospects who played in Arizona are in the big leagues in two years. If you can pitch against guys in the AFL, then you have a pitcher who is legit.”
Be sure to check out my radio interview with Solis sunday night at 6:00 p.m. on Federal News Radio or any time at nationals360.com.