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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Sampson Finishes Strong at Indianapolis, But Still Has Work to Do Before the Majors

In his final start before the minor league season ending, Adrian Sampson allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings on four hits. Sampson walked a pair and struck out five.

Coming into the start, Sampson’s ERA had ballooned up to over 8.00 with Indianapolis. Odd numbered outings did not go well for the right-hander. In his first and third start combined, Sampson allowed 11 runs on 19 hits in 5.2 innings. In his second start, Sampson was strong, as he tossed six innings, allowing six hits and two runs.

Over four starts and 19 innings, Sampson struck out ten, while walking seven. The five strikeouts on Saturday night was easily the most that he had at the Triple-A level.

On Saturday night, Sampson struck out a pair in each of the first and the fifth inning. All four of these strikeouts were from the slider, which appeared to be the pitch that Sampson used to put hitters away. The slider, as well as the changeup, varied in speed from 84 to 87. However, he did reach as low as 81. This increased the appearance of his fastball, which consistently sat in the low 90s – ranging from 88 to 91 on Saturday. In addition, Sampson was consistently working inside to right-handed hitters. He was not quite as effective getting into lefties, which is something that Sampson told me earlier in the month that he has put an emphasis on.

Being in the low 90s, control is something that is going to be key for Sampson. Of his 94 pitches on Saturday, 57 crossed the plate for strikes. Though the ratio is not as high as he would like, he did seem to miss down in the zone more often than up. There were a pair of long outs to the warning track on pitches that he missed up, but the damage was limited.

Sampson worked primarily with the fastball, especially early. In the first inning, 13 of Sampson’s 18 pitches were fastballs, including his first 10 offerings. Well over half of his pitches were fastballs. On Saturday, he used the fastball to set up the breaking ball and changeup very effectively.

The International League hit .358 against Sampson in the four starts, so he clearly has some work to do before he is big league ready. However, only turning 23 next month in his third year of professional ball, he is clearly ahead of the curve and has plenty of time to pick it up.

In order to get some extra work in, Sampson will join fellow Indianapolis rotation member Nick Kingham in the Arizona Fall League this year. Both of the right-handers will return to the Indianapolis rotation next season and will benefit from getting the Triple-A experience this season.

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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.


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