It’s not often you see relief pitching prospects on top prospect lists. However, Tyler Samaniego has been nothing but dominant since arriving to the Pirates. The high-leverage lefty was selected in the 15th round of the 2021 draft as an under-slot deal, signing for just $75K. The University of South Alabama has been a great use of that under slot pick so far.
Samaniego has pitched 41 innings for the Pirate High-A and Double-A affiliates. He has a 1.76 ERA, 3.01 FIP, and .78 WHIP between the two levels. Samaniego has a 28% strikeout rate and 10.8% walk rate. Samaniego’s K% dipped from 35.3% to 22.5% when he got promoted, but his walk rate also took a nose dive from 16.2% to 6.7%.
Samaniego gets a decent amount of swings and misses, but his biggest strength has been keeping the ball on the ground and preventing home runs. He has a 59.8% ground ball rate, a sub-15% line drive rate (12.7%), and a sub-30% fly ball rate (27.6%). He’s allowed just a single home run all year, giving him a 0.22 HR/9 rate.
The relief prospect has only had one bad outing all year, with five of the eight earned runs he’s given up coming in just one game. Outside of that one appearance, Samaniego has a .69 ERA. For reference, the lowest ERA ever posted by a reliever in the major leagues is Zack Britton in 2016 at 0.54.
Samaniego has a lower arm slot and averages out in the mid-90s with his heater. He also has a quality upper-80s slider, though that’s all he has. Samaniego looks like he could be setting up games (or even closing them out) for the Pirates for years to come within the very near future. He’s 23-years-old and dominating Double-A batters. It’s only a matter of time before he gets the bump to Triple-A and, subsequently, the major leagues.