Soliman tosses seven hitless innings

Former infielder 'dominating' in second Appy League start

Manuel Soliman signed with the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2007. (David McQueen)

By Daren Smith / MLB.com | June 30, 2010 5:40 PM

Two years ago, Manuel Soliman was playing third base in his native Dominican Republic. On Wednesday night, he was so dominant on the mound that the Elizabethton Twins let him pitch an extra inning.

Soliman tossed seven hitless frames in his second Appalachian League start as the Twins edged the Danville Braves, 1-0, at Legion Field.

"He had everything working," Elizabethton pitching coach Jim Shellenback said. "His fastball was jumping pretty good, he had real good bite on his slider and he was changing speeds well."

The 20-year-old right-hander hit a batter in the first inning, walked two and struck out five. The Twins also committed three errors behind him, but Soliman (1-1) allowed just one baserunner to reach second.

"We have a 100-pitch count and he reached about 93, 94 pitches, so we had to take him out. He'd never gone that far," Shellenback said. "I was thinking about taking him out after six, but he was just dominating. They never hit a ball real good off him."

It was a stark contrast to his stateside debut on Friday when he gave up five runs -- four earned -- on five hits over three innings.

"He was very nervous his first start," said Shellenback, who pitched in the Major Leagues from 1966-'77. "You could tell the difference tonight. He was more relaxed, more aggressive."

The Twins signed Soliman as a non-drafted free agent in March 2007. As a third baseman, he batted .189 with four homers and 16 RBIs in 63 games in the Dominican Summer League. The switch to pitching came the following year in the instructional league.

"He's coming along, he's making strides," Shellenback said. "He's got a big league arm. He's a smart kid, he's got a cool head. He doesn't get real excited. He's a real hard worker and he's serious about it. He's got a lot going for him."

Andrei Lobanov, who started the season in the Class A Advanced Florida State League, came on to pitch the eighth and lost the no-hit bid on a leadoff single by pinch-hitter Bobby Rauh. He also gave up a two-out single to Andrelton Simmons but worked two scoreless innings to notch the save.

Danville's Lucas La Point (1-1) matched Soliman zero for zero through six innings. The 2009 23rd-round pick limited the Twins to one hit until Lance Ray and Oswaldo Arcia opened the seventh with doubles to produce the game's lone run.

La Point was charged with a run on three hits and a walk, striking out five, over seven innings.

Daren Smith is an editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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