We already know that anyone pitching in San Diego’s PETCO is instantly a bit better thanks to the spacious dimensions of the yard. The Padres are grooming some legitimately talented arms that can pitch anywhere to the point that the Petco Push will make them nearly unbeatable. Most recently it has been ace Mat Latos while Simon Castro and Casey Kelly are rocketing through the minor leagues, but one of the prospect we might soon see destroying hitters regardless of venue is Keyvius Sampson.
The diminutive (6’0) 20-year old is currently a second tier prospect in the Padres organization, but his talent has top 100 potential. The 2009 4th round pick out of high school struggled with injuries in his first full season last year pitching just 43 innings in 10 starts. However, he did impress in the limited sample with mid-90s velocity (sits 91-93, touches 95) that drove his gaudy 12.1 K/9. The secondary stuff is behind the heater right now which is why he’s an org prospect right now as opposed to a top 100 guy, but it’s on the come.
He has good feel for both a curveball and changeup so while neither is terribly consistent just yet, at least both are in the arsenal as opposed to needing that third pitch which would leave him on the fence between starter and reliever. Some reports have the changeup a bit ahead of the curve, but then others suggest the curve is a bit better.
So far in 2011, it would appear that the three pitches are firing on all cylinders as he has put together two truly excellent starts amassing 19 strikeouts in 11 shutout innings walking just one and allowing a mere two hits. His first outing included six no hit innings with 10 Ks while Wednesday’s was nearly as impressive with five innings of 2-hit ball with nine Ks and the lone walk he’s allowed. His next hurdle is proving health.
Elbow soreness got him shutdown last year and it likely stemmed from a tear in his right labrum, but so far he looks 100% healthy. I think the Padres would just like to see him stay healthy and spend the season in A-Fort Wayne of the Midwest League as opposed to worrying about a promotion as the next step if the California League where pitchers routinely get destroyed regardless of talent.
If he can pitch a full season in A-ball and continue to excel, then he might be in line to skip High-A and go straight to AA-San Antonio for 2012. The Padres did just that with Latos and Castro, allowing them to skip the pitcher’s hell that is the Cal League.
He is one to keep on the radar from a fantasy standpoint, but this white-hot start is definitely worth noting.