2010 Cardinals Prospect #22: Francisco Samuel

A tough second half derailed a promising start. Can the hard-throwing reliever bounce back in 2010? Today's article is FREE!

Scout.com Player Profile (including links to full 2009 and career stats)

2009 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Throw Signed Round
19 RHR 12/20/1986 6-2 185 R R 2006 FA

Selected 2009 stats

SPR 3 4 5.66 52 0 22 47.2 36 33 2 46 59 1.58 0.208

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Dustin Mattison (17): In the middle of June, Samuel had 15 saves and was on pace to set the Springfield single-season save record. Then the wheels fell off and the 22-year-old posted an ERA of 7.88 in his final 20 appearances. Control is the key with the fireballing Dominican; he walked 18 in those final 20 games covering only 16 innings.

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 Cardinals shut him down in late August with a right hip flexor strain. Being a right-handed pitcher, this very well could have affected his delivery and been a complicating factor in his struggles.

Message board community (25): Francisco Samuel was the community's 25th-ranked prospect, slightly down from last year's 20th. He spent the full season in Double-A at just 22, and in just his third minor league season after signing in 2006. (He blew through the Midwest and Florida State Leagues in 2008).

Can you say "Nook LaLoosh?" Samuel has fanned 193 in just 145.1 innings. But he's also walked 134 and thrown 36 wild pitches. The Baseball Cube report lists his control as "1" on a scale that goes to 100. The scale does not go to 0.

Samuel throws it 94 to 98 mph, and he's listed as only 150 pounds on a 6-foot-1 frame, so perhaps he'll put on some muscle and even more power? The question is whether he'll be able to figure out where he's throwing it. If he does, he could be a closer one day. He has been used exclusively as a reliever these last two years. - Gagliano

Brian Walton (27): To many, Samuel is last year's news, passed up in the hot new closer race lead by Eduardo Sanchez, the man who replaced him as Springfield's closer mid-season. I dropped Samuel six places in my rankings this year as his relative youth is becoming less and less a differentiator in his favor. For example, Sanchez is more than two years younger.

Perhaps as Dustin noted, the hip flexor injury was the reason for the 2009 slide, but Samuel's previous season ended with a groin strain. Even prior to this year, he has averaged just about a walk per inning in his career. That isn't improving and until it does, the Dominican is not going to be able to ride his heat alone to the majors.

On the positive side, opposing hitters managed just a .208 average against him, so there is hope if he can manage to throw more strikes. In addition, Samuel was among eight Cardinals farmhands added to the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft and as such, one inhibitor to his ascension to the majors was removed.

Our 2010 top 40 countdown continues: To see our entire list of 40 Cardinals prospects, click here. You can also read each of the voters' philosophies in making their selections.

There's more! Want access to the all details behind our Cardinals prospect rankings in our "Forty Days, Forty Nights, Forty Prospects" feature here at The Cardinal Nation?

Subscribe now to our annual Total Access Pass(tm) and receive in the spring the 2010 FOX Fantasy Guide / Scout Prospect Guide, the perfect hardcopy companion to "Forty Days", including the top prospects from all 30 MLB organizations and much more. We author the Cardinals section of the guide as always.

© 2009 stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Cardinal Nation Top Stories