WOODBRIDGE, Va. - Left-hander Sammy Solis took another step forward with a quality debut for the Single-A Potomac Nationals in a 12-3 victory over the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Pfitzner Stadium.
You could hear the smack of Sandy Leon's catcher's mitt when Solis' fastball would smoke in there, and he worked the mound at an up tempo, but controlled pace.
Solis went six innings, scattering seven hits, with three runs, one walk, one home run and five strikeouts. He threw 85 pitches, 57 for strikes. He is now 3-1 in eight minor league starts, with 4.08 ERA, 45 strikeouts and 13 walks.
Solis got the fastball up to 93 mph and hovered around 91, 92 mph all night. His changeup was 78 to 80 mph and he also located his knuckle curve.
He said he was very pleased with his first Carolina League start and win.
"It felt good," Solis said. "It felt like I was back to even because I was supposed to start here and got injured. Now, I am here and established myself and got my first outing out of the way."
In the first inning, Solis came out firing, but didn't get some borderline calls around the plate, walking the second batter, Wilmington second baseman Kurt Mertins. Base hits by Nick Van Stratten and later from Ryan Stovall gave the Blue Rocks a 1-0 advantage. Solis managed to get a line out to left field to end the frame.
Solis noticed the strike zone was tight, but he remained focused to get the three outs.
"I don't know if there was a strike zone, really," Solis joked a little. "That was tough. But you get over it, go right after guys and they are going to swing regardless."
Pitching coach Paul Menhart did not see any problems with the strike zone or Solis' location. He said the young southpaw was unfazed and just kept on pitching
"I thought he was awesome," Menhart said. "I really did. It might look like he was being 'squeezed.' You could never tell from his mannerisms and his poise. He just kept firing that ball over the plate. He gave up one in the first and then four straight zeros. He caught a couple of pitches over the plate in the six inning, but I thought he threw the ball outstanding."
Solis allowed a late home run from John Whittleman, but went from the second to the fifth inning allowing no runs on just two hits. He said the high Single-A hitters do a better job of seeing breaking balls.
"Most of the guys (at this level) can hit off speed now," Solis said. "In Hagerstown, they are looking fastball and swinging early. These guys can stay with every pitch. It makes it a little tougher to pitch. But once we established the fastball like we did today, it works out."