The Nationals' No. 5 prospect is left-hander Sammy Solis.
Before we talk about the talented southpaw, I wanted to pass along where I am the next few days. I am here in Manhattan, Kan., to call the radio version of George Washington basketball against the Kansas State Wildcats. The game is Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. Eastern time on MASN2 and 1500AM in Washington, D.C., area.
Manhattan is known as the "Little Apple" in reference to Manhattan in New York City. It is also about three hours northwest of Fort Scott, Kan., the hometown of Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche.
It is also about 14 degrees and there is snow on the ground. Feels about right.
Back to Solis. What a season he had in the Nationals organization.
Solis started the 2013 season rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery. He ended it with three clutch performances and a 40-man roster invite. Solis pitched in a pair of crucial Mills Cup championship games, the final series for the high Single-A Carolina League title.
Solis also started the must-win game for the Mesa Solar Sox to get into the Arizona Fall League championship contest. He won that game and gave the Solar Sox a title opportunity. Solis allowed four total earned runs in six of those seven Arizona starts.
In that Nov. 14 game versus Glendale, Solis notched the win with five innings, allowing just one run on six hits with no walks and registered four strikeouts.
Solis was 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA in 13 starts in the minors last season, with 43 strikeouts and 19 walks in 59 2/3 innings.
For Mesa, Solis was even better, going 5-2 with a 2.17 ERA in seven games, with 29 strikeouts and seven walks against the best prospects from every major league team.
Solis is locked in as the No. 5 Nats prospect by Baseball America. But past injuries are still a concern, says national writer Aaron Fitt.
"This is one you look at it on paper: He is 25 years old and he hasn't ever pitched above Single-A ball, (so) why is this guy (No. 5) on the list?" Fitt said. "I understand people who are skeptical because of his injury history. Players get labeled as injury-prone. If you were going to slap that on Sammy Solis, I wouldn't argue with you.
"He has been hurt ever since college; every year there is something. But when healthy, he is pretty darn good. I am with you. I like how he came back this year. I have always liked his mound demeanor. You talk about how he has performed in big games. This is a guy that is unflappable.
"This is something I have always heard about him going back to college is that he doesn't have a pulse," Fitt said "He is unaffected by big situations. His stuff is good and he is left-handed. He will show you some good velocity. I like the changeup and I like the breaking ball. He has pitches that are a little above average potentially with maybe a plus changeup. You have a nice package here (in Solis)."
It is that mound demeanor that I witnessed in his first start back with the P-Nats in late May. He gave up a couple of hits, but did not get rattled and stayed with the catcher, making pitches to get out of the inning. He should make a nice transition to Double-A Harrisburg this season.