Selected 2009 stats
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.
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