Tyler Samaniego: Lefty Among Top Performers From 2021 Draft Class

One of the best performers from the Pittsburgh Pirates’ much-lauded 2021 draft class has been Tyler Samaniego, the Pirates 15th round pick out of South Alabama.

The left-handed pitcher has been one of the better relievers in the Pirates system, beginning the year in Greensboro before a promotion to Altoona at the end of May.

Samaniego allowed just one earned run in 14 appearances, 17 innings overall, while walking 11 and striking out 24 while with the Grasshoppers. He also didn’t give up a hit (0-for-31) the entire month of May before his promotion.

While with Altoona, it’s been one rough outing that has inflated his ERA. All five of the earned runs he’s allowed with the Curve came on June 8th — in an outing where he only was able to record two outs before getting pulled from the game.

So, in the other nine games he’s played, Samaniego hasn’t allowed an earned run in Double-A and has struck out 14 batters in 13 total innings.

Looking at some video from the Bowie Baysox series in late May/early June — Samaniego’s first with Altoona — you can see why has been so effective this season.

The first clip shows Samaniego working the fastball away, mixing in a backdoor slider that broke through the zone low but was swung at by the hitter. He eventually got the hitter looking for a called strike three on a fastball away.

That’s followed up by a quick two-pitch at-bat against a left-handed hitter. It ends in a ground out but shows Samaniego’s ability to throw the pitch for strikes on both sides of the plate.

The final clip is maybe one of the best pitch sequences set up I have seen from a reliever this season and shows just how dangerous a changeup can be. Samaniego throws four straight fastballs away to start off the count, three of which are fouled off. He then comes inside with a backfoot slider that the hitter can hold off on before going back outside with a changeup, not a fastball, to get the swing and miss strike three.

Having the changeup in his arsenal is part of the reason that Samaniego is dominating righties to the extent that he has. Righties are just 5-for-65 against Samaniego on the season and have a slash of .077/.208/.092. On the other side, lefties do marginally better, collecting six hits in 35 at-bats on the season.

Halfway through the season, Samaniego has looked like one of the more dominant relief pitchers in the system. Relievers can be a little harder to project, but teams can always find a spot for a lefty who can throw strikes with a slider and mid-90s fastball.


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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.

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If he consistently does well in Altoona, I hope they send him to Indy for a couple weeks. He may be ready for the Show early next year.


Could be a nice later round find. Maybe the first from that class to debut?


Could be LHP out of the pen pretty quickly


big dude . . . shades of the Candyman


Is Indianapolis out of the question this year?

Wilbur Miller

Shouldn’t be.

Pirates Prospects Daily


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