Two of the top left-handers in the Nationals system are preparing to start play in early October in the Arizona Fall League. Sammy Solis and Matt Purke are two of the eight Nationals prospects invited to play for the Mesa Solar Sox.
This season was big for both south paws as they returned to the field following injuries. Solis recovered from Tommy John surgery and Purke from shoulder rehabilitation.
High Single-A Potomac manager Brian Daubach said both starters made positive steps pitching well and more importantly, staying on the field for a complete season that ended with the P-Nats making it all the way to the Carolina League championship series.
"Both of them had very positive years," Daubach said. "Started out, I know Sammy was in Florida quite a bit. By the time they got up to Potomac they stayed healthy all year and were able to take the ball every five days."
Daubach said Solis made improvements to a couple parts of his game. They had so much confidence in the Solis that he was given the starting nod in two of the five championship series starts against Salem.
"I know Sammy worked on his mechanics quite a bit and kind of slowing things down," Daubach said. "He really commanded the baseball much better than he had in the past and he is healthy. I am sure he is looking forward to continuing that in the Fall League."
Solis finished with a 2-1 record in 13 starts and a 3.32 ERA. He struck out 43 hitters and allowed 19 walks over 59 2/3 frames.
Purke went 6-4 with a 3.80 ERA in 18 starts for low Single-A Hagerstown and Potomac. In 90 innings, Purke struck out 82 batters and walked only 25.
Daubach also said it was a good step forward for Purke health-wise, as he was able to make all those starts and get some innings under his belt to test his durability.
"As far as Matt, another positive update, he takes the ball every five days," Daubach said. "He has had a couple years of injuries and I know that has been frustrating to him. The kid he is really a competitor, I know it hurt him not being out there. This year he was able to do that. He got better as the season went on. He had to learn. When he first came to Potomac, he had some struggles and he dealt with it well. So he learned how to pitch in that first season. That will forever help him moving forward."
Now the next step is to see how Solis and Purke perform against the best prospects in the Arizona Fall League. It will be a good test as the Nationals get them ready to look to move up next season and fortify the left-handers available to start in the system going forward.
Mesa begins play in the AFL on October 8.