Mariners News: Adrian Sampson Dazzles in Rainiers’ Debut


Just before the trade deadline passed on July 31st, the Seattle Mariners agreed to send J.A. Happ to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Adrian Sampson. When the M’s shipped Happ to the Pirates, the majority of fans were just relieved to see the back of the veteran southpaw. However, the young pitching prospect the M’s received in return may be the true prize in the deal.

Adrian Sampson made his Tacoma Rainiers debut Sunday night in Las Vegas, and he dominated the 51’s en route to earning the victory. The 23-year-old right-hander allowed 3 runs on 5 hits across 8 strong innings of work. Sampson struck out 5 and walked none. He struck out the side in the 2nd inning, and carried a 1-hitter into the 5th. A 3-run home run in the 6th proved to be his only blemish. Sampson is described as a consistent strike thrower, and 68 of his 100 pitches found the zone last night.

Sunday’s quality start is nothing new for Sampson, as he was very productive with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate prior to the trade. He went 8-8 with a 3.98 ERA across 21 outings with the Indianapolis Indians in 2015. Sampson struck out 95 and walked just 29 through 124.1 innings of work. He allowed 1.335 walks/hits per inning.

According to Baseball Prospectus, Sampson profiles as a starting pitcher who should fit into the back end of a big league rotation. He employs a 3-pitch arsenal, highlighted by a fastball that hovers in the low to mid 90’s. Sampson’s fastball is said to have sinking action that should lend itself well to inducing ground balls. He also utilizes an above-average slider. Sampson throws his slider between 84 and 86 mph, and scouts are very impressed with his ability to locate it. His changeup is still a work in progress, but it has improved slightly in 2015.

Adrian Sampson’s most endearing quality is the fact that he is a local boy, who grew up dreaming of toeing the rubber at Safeco Field. Sampson was born in Redmond, WA on October 7, 1991. The 23-year-old graduated from Skyline High School in Sammamish, WA, and was picked by the Miami Marlins in the 16th round of the 2011 draft. However, Sampson did not sign, and opted to play ball at nearby Bellevue Community College. The 6’2 right-hander signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being selected in the 5th round of the 2012 draft.

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If Sampson can continue to pitch well in Tacoma over the final month of the Rainiers’ season, I see no reason why he should be given a shot with the Mariners in September. This season is over for Seattle, and they need to find out which players can be useful in 2016. Sampson may not be a top prospect, but he could develop into a solid complimentary piece in the M’s star studded rotation.

I sincerely hope fans will get a chance to see what Sampson can do this fall. It is always enjoyable to watch a local athlete don a Mariners’ uniform, and I’m sure it will be an emotional scene when Sampson makes his Safeco Field debut in front of friends and family.

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