MadFriars' Pitcher of the Year

Keyvius Sampson is the MadFriars' pitcher of the year after a dominant performance for the low-A Fort Wayne TinCaps in 2011 which saw him named the organization's pitcher of the month in three out of the five months of the minor league season.

"It's great to be in the running but to get it I'm honored," said Sampson upon finding out that he won the award.

This year for the TinCaps the former fourth round pick in 2009 went 12-3 with a 2.90 ERA along with an organization leading 143 strikeouts in 118 innings pitched at only twenty years old.

"A better tempo when I'm pitching, better command of my fastball and being able to throw my change-up whenever I want," Sampson said late in the year to MadFriars as the reasons behind his success this season in the Midwest League.

Coming out of high school he was considered to have a very powerful, but unrefined arm. Spending half of 2010 in extended spring training enabled him to refine his mechanics that allowed him to command his four-seam fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone.

Last season with the short-season Eugene Emeralds he was as good as anyone In the first two months striking out 53 batters in 27.2 innings pitched and allowing only 12 earned runs in eight starts as batters hit .200 against him in June and .198 in July before a mild shoulder sprain sidelined him for his last few starts.

In the Instructional League he was able to come back from a setback that the organization characterized at the time as more more precautionary than serious but Sampson was determined to prove he could pitch in a full-season league.

"I came in knowing that I had to prove that I could stay healthy," Sampson said on his off-season training program. Since being drafted he has gone from a thin 185 lbs. two years ago to a very solid 215 lbs. at 6'1" while still being considered one of the better athletes in the system.

"I worked really hard this off-season. Everyone around me pushed me and encouraged me. With weights the big focus was to make sure that my arm and shoulder muscles were strong."

This year Sampson made twenty-four starts and held the opposition to a .192 batting average.

"He has a live fastball that gets on hitters pretty quick and he throws 91-94 so that helps," said Shawn Wooten, the TinCaps manager this year who will follow him to Lake Elsinore in 2012.

"He can locate on both sides of the plate and has a nice little kicker at the end."

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