Down on the Farm: Checking in on the Nationals’ Top 5 Prospects

2 of 7

Feb 19, 2014; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Sammy Solis (44) does fielding exercises in spring training action at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5: Sammy Solis, LHP – Double-A Harrisburg

Almost immediately after being selected by the Nationals in the 2nd round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft, 25-year-old Sammy Solis started climbing the ranks in the Nationals’ farm system with his 97 mph sinking fastball and solid knuckle-curveball. Solis’ 6-foot-5 frame and powerful left arm caught the attention of scouts and fans alike as he seemed destined to break into the Nationals’ rotation plans.

After thriving in Class A Hagerstown in 2010 and the beginning of 2011, Solis was promoted to High-A Potomac, where he went 6-2 with a 2.72 ERA while striking out 53 batters over 56 1/3 innings of work. Since then, however, the left-hander has struggled with injuries that have delayed his career by more than two years.

After suffering what felt like a “pulled muscle” during an Arizona Fall League game in 2011, Solis was diagnosed with a pinhole tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow. He underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2012.

Despite a slight drop in his fastball velocity and a shoulder issue that shelved the left-hander for a month, Solis returned to his dominant form after the surgery in 2013, posting a 3.32 ERA over 59 2/3 innings, the majority at Potomac. Just two years removed from surgery, Solis had a chance to make the Nationals’ bullpen during spring training, despite his lack of minor league experience. He may have been able to make the team had he not been limited to just two appearances because of a back issue that plagued the left-hander until late May.

Solis was once again shut down on May 26 after he developed discomfort in his pitching elbow in his first start after returning from the back issue, pitching for Double-A Harrisburg. The left-hander has not pitched since then and is on the disabled list, a major concern for a pitcher who has already had elbow surgery in his career.

Solis definitely has the tools to break into the Nationals rotation or bullpen at some point in the near future, but for that to happen, he’ll have to get healthy and stay healthy. He hasn’t had the ideal amount of minor league experience but the left-hander has strong command of all of his pitches and has everything he needs to make it to the big leagues. If he manages to stay healthy, we might just see the big left-hander on the mound at Nationals Park in 2015.