Padres Prospect Interview: Keyvius Sampson

Keyvius Sampson made a quick impression on the San Diego Padres' brass. He was confident and poised in his brief action, backing it up with plenty of stuff. While he will start the year in extended, Sampson is a potential ace.

Did you always figure you would sign with the Padres?

Keyvius Sampson: No sir. It came to that final week before we came to the agreement – meeting in between both of our ranges. I didn't really know until that time that I was going to sign.

Did it feel good to get that out of the way so the focus can return to baseball?

Keyvius Sampson: Yes it did. Being in the middle of getting ready for school or getting ready for professional ball was kind of a headache. I wanted to get the process over pretty quick, whether I was signing or not signing so I could figure out which route I was going to take.

You are a relatively deep thinker and consider a lot of different options based on what I can tell. How do you leave some of that stuff behind when you get on the mound?

Keyvius Sampson: When I am on the mound I feel worry-free. It's not easy but it does come somewhat natural as far as putting my life outside of baseball aside when I am on the mound. I have to be there for my teammates to make sure I am doing my job on the mound and in the field.

You went out to the Arizona Rookie League as your first taste of professional baseball. What did you see out there?

Keyvius Sampson: I saw a bunch of big guys and little me! The first game – me, (Donavan) Tate and Everett (Williams) are all there. We go in and see sunflower seeds and bubble gum. ‘Wow, we get our own seeds now.' It was the little things that caught our attention. It was a fun experience coming out and learning everyone. A lot of diversity – different ethnicities. We try and teach some of the Latin kids English and they teach us Spanish. It is fun.

You also got a taste of Eugene as well late in the year. Was there a noticeable difference in the leagues?

Keyvius Sampson: Competition wise, a little bit. There were more hitters up there with a game plan. If the first pitch was there, they were hacking away. Other than that, not really.

You could tell a difference in the atmosphere, as far as fans. In Arizona, there aren't many fans at all. When we went up there, I was amazed when I saw the stands filled. The crowd was into the game and knew what they were cheering about. It was a good feeling to have. Thousands of people cheering you on. It felt pretty good. Pitchers and hitters love the adrenaline from the crowd that is rooting you on. It gets you motivated. It was a great atmosphere.

It is the easiest thing to say – don't change anything when you go up a level. Do you feel like you accomplished that?

Keyvius Sampson: It is the small things that count when you move up a level. It is a tempo – when you throw a pitch, you want to get back on the mound and throw the next one to get the routine going. It is not about velocity. You see guys with lower velocity still get people out. It is about location and tempo and knowing the game speed.

You mentioned when we spoke after you were drafted that you stayed away from the curveball for a while. I imagine when you went to Arizona and Eugene you put that back into your game. Was it easy to find?

Keyvius Sampson: My first game, first outing, it was so-so. It started coming back, coming back, and actually came back better than I thought it would. I was pretty excited about that. Then to have my changeup to go along with it. I was pretty excited to have it come back so quick.

You went out to instructs. What was the focus for you?

Keyvius Sampson: My focus was to get my lower half into my delivery and to get a taste of what spring training would be like. It was an opportunity for me to get around the coaches and pick the brain, learn more about baseball and different scenarios. It was a learning experience.

You mentioned integrating the lower half into the delivery. What will that do for you?

Keyvius Sampson: It will take the stress of the arm and will help me late in innings when the arm starts to wear down. You get the big old trunks that kick in and get you through the seventh and eighth inning.

It actually adds a few miles (per hour) but I am not worried about that right now. I am focused on the mechanics. It is smart to get them involved to take the stress off the arm, gain velocity, and help you go longer, which we all want.

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