Prospect Solomon healthy, preparing for ST

Recovered from TJ surgery, righty recently added to 40-man

December 1st, 2020

HOUSTON -- The cancellation of the 2020 Minor League season because of the pandemic didn’t do much to derail the career of Astros pitching prospect Peter Solomon, who was set to miss the entire season anyway after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2019.

Solomon, who was added to the club’s 40-man roster on Nov. 20, was trying to build off a terrific 2018, when he posted a 2.32 ERA and struck out 114 in 100 2/3 innings combined between Class A and Class A Advanced, when he suffered an elbow injury in his second start of the ’19 season.

While the rest of the baseball world was shut down on March 12, Solomon was rehabbing from having the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow replaced months earlier. He spent about a month in Houston’s instructional camp in West Palm Beach, Fla., in late summer, throwing off the mound and facing hitters, and he's mentally and physically prepared for his first big league Spring Training this February.

“Not really missing any innings this year was great,” Solomon said. “It stinks for baseball as a whole, but for me personally, it was a little bit of a silver lining I wasn’t missing out on a ton of opportunities or games.”

Solomon, 24, was selected in the fourth round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Notre Dame and represents the next wave of young pitchers coming up through the system. He’s ranked as Houston’s No. 27 prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was added to the 40-man with No. 1 Forrest Whitley and No. 12 Tyler Ivey.

“I thought I had an OK possibility,” Solomon said of his chances to be added. “I threw pretty well at instructional camp and I felt like I put myself in good position, that I did everything I could have to showcase where I was at. … It was definitely really exciting. I wouldn’t say I was expecting it by any means, but I was definitely happy I got added.”

Solomon’s best pitches are his four-seam fastball, curveball and slider, and he has a changeup used to keep lefties off balance. Walks have been an issue in his career, but Solomon believes he’s emerged from Tommy John better in many ways. His average fastball velocity is up to 94-95 mph, and the spin on his offspeed pitches has improved.

“I would say a little bit of everything -- just stuff, velocity and body,” he said. “Just being able to focus completely on getting in better shape. Not that I was in poor shape, but being able to take a whole year to focus on your body, it’s the most time I’ve taken away from baseball since I was 6 or 7 years old. I was always playing fall ball or camps.

“It was nice to take six months off from throwing and get back into it and focus on how my body feels and get strong and all that stuff. It’s definitely paid off so far. It’s exciting to see, just coming back and being a little bit better.”

Solomon moved to the West Palm Beach area in early August to train at Cressey Sports Performance, where several big league pitchers, including Astros right-hander Josh James, have been training. He’ll be there through the end of spring camp and is eager to start competing again.

“Even this past year, with having so many young guys getting opportunities and seeing them have success, it’s definitely exciting they see some of same things in me,” Solomon said. “Getting put on the 40-man is always a good thing, and I was really excited [that] after basically not throwing for a year and a half due to Tommy John rehab, they saw enough value in me."