Adrian Sampson Looks to Build on his Breakout Season


Given the depth of pitching prospects that the Pirates have in their system, it would be easy for a pitcher to get overlooked. With top prospects like Jameson Taillon, Tyler Glasnow and Nick Kingham, a pitcher would need to put together an excellent season to be noticed. Yet, that is exactly what Adrian Sampson did last year.

Sampson, the Pirates fifth round selection in the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft, certainly would not have been rated among the Pirates top pitching prospects heading into last season. His 2013 campaign with the Bradenton Marauders was difficult, to say the least. That year, Sampson produced a 5-8 record with a 5.14 ERA and a 1.421 WHiP, hardly numbers that would inspire confidence.

However, the 2014 season was quite different. Promoted to the AA Altoona Curve, Adrian Sampson put together an excellent season. Sampson was 10-5 with a 2.55 ERA and a 1.047 WHiP. While he only struck out 99 batters in 148 innings, Sampson displayed excellent control, walking only 30 batters.

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Even though Sampson did not have the same success with the Indianapolis Indians, going 1-1 with a 6.16 ERA and a 1.895 WHiP, it still seems likely that the improvement displayed at Altoona is a harbinger of things to come. Sampson did a spectacular job of inducing weak contact, holding the opposition to a 10.9% line drive rate while getting a ground ball on 47.3% of plate appearances against at the AA level.

While Adrian Sampson may not be a top of the rotation starter, he could become a solid middle of the rotation pitcher for the Pirates. he is likely never going to be a high strikeout pitcher, as his fastball sits in the lower 90’s. However, his curve is considered to be his best pitch, and if his changeup continues to develop, that strikeout rate could actually improve.

In all likelihood, Sampson will begin the 2015 season in Indianapolis. After all, that would fit with the Pirates modus operandi of giving their pitchers a month or so at a higher level, then starting them at that spot the following year. Perhaps, if Simpson puts together a strong 2015 with the Indians, he could be a September callup, making his appearances in the midst of a possible pennant race.

Adrian Sampson may not rank among the top prospects in baseball, but he certainly improved his stock within the Pirates system. With another strong season, he could find himself as a part of the Pirates rotation in 2016.