Nats building power pitchers at instructs

Nationals prospect left-hander Sammy Solis (pronounced soh-lease) is getting ready to start the Arizona Fall league season and head back home.

He says his time in Viera with the instructional league squad has been all about getting in condition to pitch against the best in Arizona.

It is even more impressive to see Solis excel in Florida and get ready for the AFL, after signing with the Nationals less than two months ago (August 14).

“It is actually going really well,” Solis said as he gets close to completing his time at the Nats training facility.

“I finally gave up my first pro run last week. So that is kind of a milestone, I guess.”

“Division I baseball really set me up for success here,” he said of his time at the University of San Diego.

“The competition is better, definitely. The guys are more disciplined here. They are looking for the right pitch. So far, every pitch that I have has been successful. Hopefully, it continues.”

Solis says he has noticed the Nationals are building some top talent in the minors and he feels the collection of arms at instructional league was the best he has ever played alongside.

“I am very impressed. It is absolutely ridiculous. I have never seen so many power arms on one team and I have played on some elite teams before.

“A.J. Morris is my roommate and I got to see him pitch for the first time last week. I was just blown away. He sits at 93 to 94 miles per hour with a nasty slider. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Rob Ray and A.J. Cole are 18 years old and they are just as good as I am. It is pretty ridiculous to see how good these guys are and the kind of potential the Nats have.”

As Cole talked about in his first start, he said they initiated the pitchers quietly with one inning per game and then gradually worked their way up.

“They started me at one and have been increasing an inning per outing,” Solis said. “I will be at five innings and 70 to 75 pitches when I leave Viera to just try to get me set up for the Arizona Fall league with my arm in condition.”

Solis lives in Litchfield Park, Arizona, played high school ball at Agua Fria, and his family still lives there. Similar to what Bryce Harper had hoped, playing in the Arizona Fall league will be a goal reached for Solis and he is thrilled to get started.

“I went to (AFL) games as a kid,” Solis said. “I have seen the kind of players that go through there. One of my teammates at San Diego, (Orioles pitcher) Brian Matusz, went through there and he talked to me about the experience and the level of talent that is out there.

“It is at home and I get to have my family there to watch me pitch. I am excited to get there and kind of gauge where I am at because I have been doing well so far but I also have not been facing Double A and Triple A kind of guys.”

Solis says he would not mind being paired with Stephen Strasburg in 2012 and beyond and bring some San Diego pitching talent across the country to work in the nation’s capital.

“I played against him for two years,” Solis said of Strasburg. “Stephen is as good as everyone says he is. He struck out 18 against us his junior year. He was sitting at 97, 98 and touched 102 miles per hour. Just ridiculous.”

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