When the Pittsburgh Pirates selected Sammy Siani with the 37th overall pick in 2019, he was regarded well for his hitting tools. The following summary was from his draft report in 2019 from MLB Pipeline:
“The outfielder has an outstanding and smooth swing and showed the ability to make consistent contact against some of the better prep arms in the country. He’s hit over power with a good approach at the plate, but some might be light on his power because of his smallish frame.”
– MLB Pipeline 2019 Draft Report
When you watch Siani swing the bat, you see the beautiful swing that scouts spoke about. His swing has become max effort, leading to a more power than hit approach, contrary to his draft report. Siani has a keen eye, with a 14.2% walk rate in Greensboro. He also is a threat on the bases, with 23 steals in 28 attempts (82%) for Greensboro.
The biggest key moving forward for Siani will be unlocking his bat’s potential at the plate. He’s hitting .198/.322/.310 with Greensboro this year, and was sent down for a month to work on removing a swing that was getting too steep.
Siani has been making adjustments over the last year to his stance, aimed at a comfortable setup that allows him to see the ball better and keep his swing on plane. In the videos below, those changes can be seen.
Credit to Anthony Murphy for clipping the videos below.
Sammy Siani 2021
This first clip includes two at-bats from Siani’s time with Bradenton in 2021.
The first is a homerun he hit on June 22nd, 2021 against the Jupiter Hammerheads. You can see the damage he’s capable of with extreme torque and rotation of his upper body as he takes a 93 MPH fastball over the deck in right field. He has a closed stance with his elbow almost tucked in while his backside is rotated towards the pitcher enough to see the digits on the back.
The second at-bat is from July 9th, 2021 against Clearwater Threshers, and what I want to mainly focus on is where his head begins and ends throughout his swing. With his max effort swing he drops his back knee almost to the point of kneeling and his head ends up where his chest began. Thus, he isn’t keeping his eye sight on a level plane as the ball reaches the plate. In addition pay attention to his front foot with minimal lift as he progresses through his swing.
Sammy Siani 2022
Bringing things into the current 2022 season, Siani has seemed to be tweaking his swing throughout the year. Earlier in the season his setup was similar to the Bradenton clips. The following clip has three at-bats from his time in Greensboro. With two of them being prior to his time being assigned to the FCL Pirates before returning the the Grasshoppers.
The first at-bat is from April 29th, 2022 against the Rome Braves, and where we start to see some drastic changes. The first thing you’ll notice is the extreme open stance with his back foot up against the first base side chalk-line. His hands are in a more upright position, with his elbow closer to parallel to the ground. He’s also hovering his front foot going into his load as opposed to minimally lifting it into his swing.
The second at-bat on July 16th, 2022 against the Brooklyn Cyclones. He reverts closer back to his old Bradenton swing, with a lot of head movement in this at-bat. The Pirates felt Siani’s swing was getting too steep, leading to the swing getting too uphill and out of the zone quickly. You can see him swinging through some pitches at the end of the second at-bat. Shortly after this, he was sent down to the Florida Complex to work on these issues.
In the third at-bat, he returns from the complex and looks to be standing more upright, while appearing to have rotated his front-side ever so slightly more towards the pitcher. He re-incorporated the front leg hover, which seems to pay dividends when executing his swing. He still has his high torque swing, but you can watch his head as he maintains eye contact on the ball the entire way through the swing. Even as he laces a long flyball to left field for a double, you can see his eyes following the ball as it comes in and as it leaves his bat.
In the first two at-bats, Siani wasn’t catching up to those pitches. After adjusting his swing, he was able to start taking those the other way, which shows that he’s starting to catch up to the balls deeper in the zone.
He still struck out a lot in the Rome series — 12 times to be exact in 21 plate appearances — but I think the latest swing iteration could provide dividends in time. Siani’s ability to generate torque through his upper body will allow him to generate power from a smaller frame and catch up to pitches deeper in the zone. He’s shown he has strong plate discipline with his walk rate, and now just needs to enhance his contact rate to unlock the potential of the Sweet Swinging Siani.
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Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.