In today’s Pittsburgh Pirates prospect column we will take a look at California native, pitcher Samson Abernathy. A young driven pitcher who is an incredible person.
For those of you who have been following my work with Rum Bunter, most of you read my last piece on a 2019 draft pick on Austin Roberts. Today, we will be discussing another member of the Pittsburgh Pirates 2019 draft class. This time, we will take a look at 27th round pick Samson Abernathy.
Abernathy is a 6’0″ 195 pound right-handed pitcher out of the state of California. Now, it is not clear if his parents named him after the biblical Samson, but much like his holy counterpart, he carries with him a fantastic head of hair and a pillar breaking stuff fanning batters left and right when he has the chance.
For the most part, Abernathy had a lackluster college career at Pacific University where he was used strictly as a reliever. After transferring from Feather River College, Abernathy barely saw the field in his final two years with Pacific and owned a high ERA. In his final year with the Boxers of Pacific, he allowed 14 earned runs and 21 hits in 18 innings pitched. Needless to say, he had a ton of things to work on, but the silver lining was that he struck out 18 batters while only walking six.
Despite his issues, the Pittsburgh Pirates decided to spend a draft pick on the man with the flowing locks of hair and put him to work right away with the Bristol Pirates. When I had a chance to pick former Bristol Pitching coach Eric Minshall’s brain about Abernathy, he said, “he is very mature. This young man knows his place in this world.” Not every 23-year-old kid is a leader or a “gym rat,” but not Abernathy says, Minshall. “He’s a fierce competitor the epitome of lead by example. Gaining every edge, he could experimenting during side sessions and collaborating with teammates.”
His pitching repertoire features a fastball, slider, and change up. The official scouting report according to Minshall, “good fastball had some run with good command. His slider was the go-to out pitch he could spot it every time. He worked very hard to make his change up a weapon.” Now about that drive and will to win, Minshall noted, “always took the ball wanted it more!! Became our closer towards the end. His teammates would tell me that they knew the game was over once we handed him the ball.”
Not everyone is meant to be a coach or even has the capabilities to become one, but Minshall thinks he could become one once he hangs up the cleats. ” He had a degree in kinetics, and it was his dream to become a coach it’s like we spoke the same language. He got to the point where he would help teach other players. He’s an amazing human being.”
Now, after those words of wisdom from the Minshall himself, let’s see what his numbers looked showed us. In 25 innings pitched, Abernathy posted 2.52 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. He struck out 33 batters and walked 12. As Minshall stated earlier, he did close out games for Bristol. In fact, he had eight saves, one of which was a rare three-inning save on July 12 against the Cardinals rookie team.
When you look at Abernathy’s splits, it shows even more dominance. Right-handed batters had a .180/.317/.260 slash line, while lefties slashed .158/.256/.158. In the three months he pitched, batters only batted above the Mendoza line once, and that was in June with a .222. He seemed to get everything going with his three-pitch arsenal in 2019.
If you look even more in-depth with his stats, you will see some fantastic things. In the 399 total pitches, Abernathy threw approximately 62% were thrown for strikes couple that with only one home run given up and 15 hits, it’s safe to say he kept the batters guessing and off balance the entire at bat. Another stat to back this up is that he allowed only seven line drives, while inducing 34 ground balls point blank he is hard to hit off of.
When the season gets going, it’s hard to say where Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates brass will send Abernathy. Where some people I’ve talked to think he ends up is in West Virginia to play in short-season ball. At 23 years of age, I’m not sure if he’s on the fast track or not, but if he continues to prevail and thrive, he very well could be.