Adrian Sampson has easily been the breakout pitcher of the year in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system. Tonight he continued his amazing run in Altoona, just missing a complete game no-hitter against Bowie. Sampson carried the no hitter into the ninth inning, but gave it up on an 0-2 pitch to Mike Yastrzemski, who doubled down the left field line. Prior to that, Sampson had only given up a walk and an error.
The error came in the first inning with one out, with the error coming off Stetson Allie. Sampson recovered to retire the next 18 batters, before giving up a walk in the seventh inning. Allie redeemed himself in the eighth inning, making two nice picks at first base, including a great stretch on a low throw by Jarek Cunningham. Allie did a complete split, which put him in great position to catch the ball low, but also extend from the bag to get the out on the close play.
Sampson was extremely efficient tonight, only having 87 pitches through eight innings, getting a lot of ground ball outs. He continued getting strong defense in the ninth, as Jarek Cunningham made a great diving stop down the line to start the inning. After giving up the double, he got a ground ball back to the mound, and a shallow fly ball to complete the first complete game shutout for Altoona since Brad Lincoln did it in 2009. He only needed 98 pitches, with 70 of those going for strikes. He had an amazing 16:6 K/BB ratio.
This would have been the third no hitter in Altoona Curve history. The most recent came almost a year ago today on July 26th, 2013, when Ethan Hollingsworth, Jason Townsend, Jhonathan Ramos and Ryan Beckman combined for the accomplishment. The first one was on April 23rd, 2002, completed by Adrian Burnside, Neal McDade and Chris Spurling. This also would have been the first complete game no hitter since Justin Wilson threw an eight inning no hitter for Indianapolis in 2012, with the game being shortened due to rain.
Sampson now has a 2.58 ERA in 122 innings this year, along with an 86:28 K/BB ratio. According to Charie Wilmoth at Bucs Dugout, he could see Indianapolis by the end of the year.
This afternoon, Kyle Stark said it was likely the Pirates would get Adrian Sampson to Indy by the end of the year.
— Charlie (@WilmothC) July 19, 2014
The Pirates usually give pitchers about 150 innings in Altoona, but also give them opportunities to pitch in the playoffs if Indianapolis has made it and Altoona is out of the race. Sampson could get around 150 innings by the end of August, allowing him to move up to Indianapolis, pitch in the post season, and prepare to start the 2015 season at the level. He’s got a chance to make it to Pittsburgh in 2015, and with his improved changeup this year, and a nice fastball/curveball combo, he could be a sleeper middle of the rotation option.