File photo courtesy Bill Scheuerman
Sammy Solis dominated during a four-inning outing Friday night.
And that doesn't even include the next wave of pitching prospects in the Nationals' farm system, a group of arms not quite ready for the majors but perhaps not too far off.
Included in that next wave is Sammy Solis, the left-hander who was the top pick in the second round of the 2010 draft and on Friday night put together a dominating performance in the Arizona Fall League.
Over four scoreless innings for the Scottsdale Scorpions, Solis struck out nine batters (most by any pitcher in the AFL this season). He did give up three hits while walking three, but the 23-year-old more than made up for it with his run of K's.
Four of Solis' strikeouts were on swings and misses by members of the Phoenix Desert Dogs lineup, and five of the last six outs he recorded were on strikes, several of them on fastballs that registered between 94-96 mph.
"Awesome stuff," Rizzo said in a text message from Phoenix Municipal Stadium, where he was watching the game in person.
Solis had been experiencing mixed results so far in Arizona, posting a 5.21 ERA over his first five starts. But he's improved as the season has progressed and hasn't allowed an earned run over his last two outings, striking out 14 in eight total innings.
The 6-foot-5 lefty enjoyed a strong first season as a professional pitcher, going a combined 8-3 with a 3.26 ERA in 17 starts between low-Class A Hagerstown and high-Class A Potomac. He also posted an impressive 93-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 96 2/3 innings.
Solis could open 2012 at Class AA Harrisburg and continue to advance quickly through the Nationals' farm system. If so, he could catapult himself into that already-deep pool of starting pitchers Rizzo was touting earlier Friday.
Solis' performance overshadowed that of teammate Bryce Harper, who merely drove in another run with an RBI single to continue his torrid streak at the plate. Harper now has 18 RBI over his last seven games. To put that in perspective, the most RBI any major leaguer recorded during a seven-game stretch this season was 15 (by Prince Fielder).
Harper finished the night 1-for-4, grounding into two double plays.
Two other Nationals pitchers appeared in the game. Recent draft pick Matt Purke bounced back from three rough outings by retiring the side on 10 pitches in the sixth. Right-hander Rafael Martin also tossed a scoreless inning to help lead Scottsdale to victory.