2009 Cardinals Prospect #19: Francisco Samuel

A stellar initial full-season stint propelled Palm Beach's closer onto our prospect list. Will he move up to Double-A in 2009? Today's article is FREE!

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2008 and career stats)

2008 ranking: Not ranked

Position: RP

DOB: 12/20/1986

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 150

Bats: Right

Throws: Right

School: San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic

Became a Cardinal: Signed as a non-drafted free agent on June 13, 2006.

Selected 2008 stats

QC 2 0 1.23 5 0 1 7.1 4 3 0 5 9 1.60 0.154
PB 4 6 3.04 54 0 29 56.1 39 20 3 48 85 1.47 0.196
Tot 6 6 2.83 59 0 30 63.2 43 23 3 53 94 1.49 0.191

Staff comments (individual rankings in parens)

Dustin Mattison (22): Though he is only listed at 150 pounds, Samuel put up big strikeout totals in his full-season debut. In 56.1 innings, the Dominican struck out 85 in the advanced Florida State League. His 29 saves were tied for the best mark in the league. To continue to advance, he will need to take better control of his above average "stuff". He walked nearly 19% of the batters he faced. Samuel was able to minimize the damage due to his 53% groundball rate.

Samuel works off a fastball that sits 94-96 and touches 98. His slider is a true strikeout pitch with good tilt that he throws in the 85-90 range. The only thing keeping Samuel from rocketing through the system is his control. If he shows better command in 2009, there is no reason to believe that he couldn't finish the season in Triple-A.

In these rankings, I am the only participant that ranked Fernando Salas ahead of Samuel. I did this due to Salas showing better control and proving his mettle at a higher level.

Ray Mileur (17): The FSL postseason all-star, split playing time between Quad Cities and Palm Beach, recording a league leading 29 saves for the Class-A advanced affiliate. He finished the season with a combined record of 6-6 and an ERA of 2.83 with 30 saves. A power pitcher with a fastball that can hit 98 MPH, Samuel struck out 85 batters in just 56 innings.

Originally signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in June, 2006, the 22-year-old Samuel is beginning his fourth season with the organization. He needs to refine his control and cut down on his free passes; he walked 48 batters last season. Assuming Chris Perez is on the Cardinals 25-man roster and Fernando Salas is promoted from Springfield to Memphis, Samuel could start the season at Double-A.

Message board community (19): Samuel had some buzz after last year as a potential prospect due to his live arm but few expected a breakout year like last year. His 9.53 ERA in the GCL in 2007 did not give much hope. However, Samuel improved in nearly every category in 2008 and advanced to Class A Palm Beach where he saved 29 games while reducing his ERA to 3.04.

Samuel is said to posses an above average major league fastball and an above average major league slider that allowed him to K 13+ hitters per 9 innings in 2008. His nemesis remains his control as he walked batters at a 7.7 per 9 inning clip. The walks don't hurt him severely as he had a .196 BAA. He further limits the damage by only giving up 1 HR every 18 innings.

Samuel should start 2009 as the closer at Springfield. If he improves his control, I don't think a call up to STL late in the year is out of the question. - CariocaCardinal

Brian Walton (21): I don't know about you, but I am getting a tired arm from all this pitching, as this is tenth consecutive hurler we've featured in the space. It has been two weeks since we called out utilityman Steven Hill at number 29 and we're still two days away from the next position player!

To make matters worse, this is our second closer with the initials "FS" in the last week. While Samuel is one level lower in the system than Springfield's Fernando Salas, he has a higher ceiling, in my opinion. It is a shame Samuel suffered a strained groin heading into the playoffs for Palm Beach, as he had been a difference maker for the Cards almost all season long (co-Florida State League save leader with 29) following his early-season promotion from Quad Cities.

To see our entire list of 40 prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

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