Padres Draft Interview: Keyvius Sampson

Keyvius Sampson has an electric arm that the San Diego Padres hope to add to the mix. Given his past, Sampson has a mature approach with a burning desire to succeed.

You got drafted by the Padres in the fouth-round. Talk a little bit about that, and how you're feeling right now.

Keyvius Sampson: I feel pretty good about it. I didn't think it would be the Padres, but I feel ready to play for any team. It's a dream come true.

Did you think some one else was going to pick you? Maybe someone whose been on your tail for a little while.

Keyvius Sampson: I was actually talking to Texas, and Texas was one pick behind the Padres. We hadn't heard anything from the Padres until early, early, early this morning. They had never given us the final yes or no.

You got to play in the AFLAC all-American game and I actually saw you pitch there and you struck out two if I remember right, talk a little bit about playing in Dodger stadium and that experience.

Keyvius Sampson: That was a once in a lifetime experience. You always dream about playing in a major league field as a kid and it was a dream come true. To play there as a 17-year-old, people kept asking ‘how was it? Did the ball carry out there?' It was amazing.

You probably matured a lot more in the past few years than a lot of different high school kids. Can you talk about the maturation process and what its done for you as a baseball player?

Keyvius Sampson: It has done a lot for me. Its helped me to think things through and make difficult decisions. I've grown up a lot faster than most kids have. I would never wish what I went through on other kids because some people take things a different way. But I was fortunate enough to have the support system that I had in Ocala, Florida and actually all over Florida that helped me through everything that I went through.

I know this is a tough subject, but what would your mom say today?

Keyvius Sampson: She would be happy for me, but she would probably be telling me to go to school. That's still not out of the question, we just have to wait on some stuff like signing and see what the situation is as far as the contract. We still haven't talked about money or things of that nature, so I can't say if I'm signing.

Let's talk about your stuff. Tell me a little bit about the pitches you throw and the speeds you throw them at.

Keyvius Sampson: My fastball this year, I pitched around 89-93. I topped out this year at 97. My curveball is about 78-80 mph and my changeup is 83-85 mph.

So what is your strikeout pitch? You racked them up pretty regularly this year.

Keyvius Sampson: My fastball and my changeup this year. My curveball has always been an out pitch, but I kind of laid off the curveball so that I could get to the changeup and make it better.

Looking at the Padres organization, what do you look forward to in professional baseball?

Keyvius Sampson: Just going out there and having fun. Your job is waking up every morning and smelling the fresh cut grass and the popcorn and you're just going out there and playing baseball, and that's actually your job. It's a dream come true.

What do you need to do to improve to take your game to the next level?

Keyvius Sampson: Working out, getting more weight, more muscle mass and getting more control of my pitches. I've already started doing those things everyday. I'm in weight room, I pitch, I throw, long toss, short boxing and I still go throw pens and just working hard and continue to be motivated and being the best player that I can be.

Do you worry that when you're working out it might affect the mechanics of your pitching?

Keyvius Sampson: No, I work out around pitching and do exercising that pitchers should do. I stay away from bench press and things like that. I mostly concentrate on my legs.

What do you think that someone seeing you for the first time won't know about you, but should?

Keyvius Sampson: I'm very shy. A lot of people consider me a leader on the field and off the field, but I'm actually pretty shy. It depends on the situation. I can go into a large crowd and be the first one to introduce myself, but I'm actually pretty shy when it comes to certain things.

Going into professional baseball, did you get a chance to hit in high school and are you going to miss that?

Keyvius Sampson: I actually did hit. I led our team in set records for hitting last year. This year, I'm going to continue to hit a little bit.

One of the things the scouts mentioned was they think there's even more velocity in your arm, Do you think that as well?

Keyvius Sampson: I do. That was actually a key component, and a key point of showing that I do have more. I came in throwing at 93-94, and I worked out hard all winter, before the season started and through the season and there was one game where my dad said, ‘Go through an inning or two, not worrying about the strike zone, let's just see what you have.' And during that game I was at 97, six or seven times and I was pitching at 93-94.

So everything now is about finding that consistency, where you can hit that each time?

Keyvius Sampson: Yes, which I'm actually on the verge of doing actually. I'm feeling a whole lot stronger since I've been working out since the high school season's been done. That's kind of the reason I didn't do many workouts this year, because I wanted to get in my off-season mode and be the best that I could be entering either college or professional baseball.

So how much do you still have to learn in the game of baseball?

Keyvius Sampson: There's a whole lot to learn in the game of baseball, being around different players and coaches you're always learning something new. You may have done it one way, but you might learn how to do it differently which might be better for you. There's a whole lot you can learn in the game of baseball. You can never know too much or learn too much.

Is there someone in the Major leagues today that you emulate, or strive to be like?

Keyvius Sampson: Chipper Jones. He's a guy whose been with his team for a countless number of years and he'd never think about trading just to get more money. He could do it, but he loves the Atlanta Braves. I look up to him because there's a lot of guys that move around just to get more money. But he's made himself known in the city of Atlanta and he continues to stick there with the fans and the club and that's the kind of loyalty that I respect and that's the way that I want to be. I want to play with a team for 20-30 years and be known in that city and become a Hall of Fame player.

It's funny, you didn't even pick a pitcher.

Keyvius Sampson: Well, one of my favorite pitchers just retired, Greg Maddux.

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