The Pirates Prospects 2015 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2015 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.
To recap the countdown so far:
We continue the countdown with the number 12 prospect, Adrian Sampson.
12. Adrian Sampson, RHP
Sampson’s career with the Pirates has been a bit of a roller coaster, with the 2014 season seeing him on the upswing. He looked like a sleeper pitching prospect after his debut in 2012, displaying a good fastball and the potential for a strong three-pitch mix. He struggled in Bradenton in 2013, which took off some of the shine of his prospect status. Despite the struggles, he moved to Altoona in 2014 and surprisingly dominated at the level, eventually reaching Indianapolis by the end of the season.
A big reason for Sampson’s issues in 2013 was due to the changeup. He was focused on throwing the pitch much more often than usual, so that he could get familiar with the pitch. It’s the same approach the Pirates took with Jameson Taillon in 2012 and Tyler Glasnow in 2014 at the same level. This led to poor results in Bradenton, but a stronger changeup to pair with his fastball and curveball. The stronger changeup allowed him to have success in the higher levels.
Sampson throws a fastball that can sit 91-94 MPH with outstanding command and a lot of downward movement. His breaking pitch is a curveball that grades as an out pitch, and led to a decent amount of strikeouts in 2014. Along with the work on the changeup, he needed to learn how to trust his other two pitches to be effective, and trust his ability to pitch, rather than throw.
The Pirates should send Sampson back to Indianapolis in 2015. He didn’t have the best numbers at the level in his debut, although his advanced metrics were much better than his ERA. He went to the Arizona Fall League over the off-season, where he pitched out of the bullpen and put up strong numbers, while refining his secondary pitches.
Sampson could arrive in Pittsburgh during the 2015 season, and could be an early season option if the team needs starting depth. His upside is a middle of the rotation starter who could handle 200 innings per year. He threw 179 innings total in 2014 between Altoona, Indianapolis, and the AFL, so he should be ready for a full season of work in 2015.