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Solis, Souza looking to impress at big league camp

Prospects excited for Spring Training after injuries limited their action in 2013

Solis, Souza looking to impress at big league camp

WASHINGTON -- Left-hander Sammy Solis and outfielder Steven Souza hope to make an impact on the Nationals this year. Both players will have the chance to make an impression at big league camp this spring.

Fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Solis, 25, has a career mark of 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA in 33 games spanning three professional seasons. According to MLB.com, Solis ranks as the 10th-best prospect in the organization.

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The Nats consider Solis a future starter, but if he makes the Opening Day roster out of Spring Training, he likely would be one of the lefties out of the bullpen.

"I'm willing to be a shortstop, if I have to," Solis jokingly said. "Honestly, I'm finally ready to make an impact with the team -- [I'm] just working hard, keeping my head down and let the front office make a decision. Throughout my whole career, it has been stop and go [because of injuries]. Now, I'm finally 100 percent, and I'm finally ready."

This offseason, Solis led the Arizona Fall League in wins (five) and strikeouts (29) en route to a 2.17 ERA in seven starts. He was able to re-establish his curveball in the AFL.

"To me, the breaking ball was the hardest thing to find after surgery," Solis said. "Out in the Fall League, I really developed it. It really came around. It was my most effective pitch. I'm excited to see how that turns out this year."

Souza also missed a lot of time last year because of injuries, but he was solid at the plate when able, hitting .300 with 15 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .396 on-base percentage for Double-A Harrisburg. After the season, he was added to the 40-man roster.

Souza began opening eyes in the organization in 2012. He played for Class A Hagerstown and Class A Advanced Potomac, and he hit a combined .297 with 23 home runs, 85 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a .366 on-base percentage.

"It's really exciting," Souza said. "From a couple of years ago to maybe being let go from the team, to where God had brought me here, it's really just exciting to just think I could have a chance to help this team win a World Series."

Prior to 2012, things weren't so exciting for Souza. On July 15, 2010, he was suspended 50 games for testing positive for Methylphenidate and Ritalinic Acid -- performance-enhancing substances in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. But Souza didn't let the setback derail his career, and he is now considered one of the team's promising prospects. Besides developing as a consistent hitter, Souza is also a quality baserunner and outfielder.

"I think I got out of my own head," Souza said. "I just started playing for God. I started enjoying the game so much. ... Bringing that mental aspect has allowed me to play the game, not put too much pressure and have a lot of fun."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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