With the recent shuffling in the Indianapolis pitching staff, Adrian Sampson has been promoted to Triple-A from Altoona.
Sampson, who posted a 2.55 ERA with the Curve this season, will join the Indianapolis rotation this week. In 24 starts, Sampson had 99 strikeouts and 30 walks, while allowing 125 hits.
The 22-year-old Sampson has reached Triple-A in just his third professional season after starting out in Low-A after the Pirates made him a fifth round pick in 2012.
Sampson struggled a bit in 2013 with Bradenton, allowing 177 hits in 140 innings and having a 5.14 ERA. However, he has enjoyed a nice bounce back this season.
UPDATE FROM TIM: Sampson has been the breakout pitcher of the year in the Pirates’ minor league system this season. A big reason for his success this year was due to improvements with his changeup. That was also a big reason for his struggles in Bradenton last year, since he spent most of the season working on improving the pitch. Sampson now has a three pitch mix, throwing a 90-94 MPH fastball, a hard breaking curveball that is at least above average, and the changeup, which has come a long way.
Sampson will get a few starts with Indianapolis to end the season, and maybe a few more if they make the playoffs. Next year he will put himself in position to reach the majors as a depth option or an injury replacement. If he continues this strong progression, he could win a rotation spot for good, depending on his performance when he most likely gets called up next summer. Sampson has the upside of a middle of the rotation starter who could eat 200 innings a year, although the conservative view has him as a strong number four starter who can take a lot of innings. He’s more likely to reach the middle of the rotation projection if he changeup continues improving.
Ryan has been following Indianapolis baseball for most of his life, and the Pirates since they became the affiliate in 2005. He began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2013, in a stint that ran through 2016 (with no service time manipulation played in). Ryan rejoined the team in 2022, covering Indianapolis once again. He has covered the Pirates in four different big league stadiums. Ryan was also fortunate enough to cover the 2015 Futures Game in Cincinnati.