Padres Prospect Interview: Keyvius Sampson

The San Diego Padres believe they have caught lightning in a bottle with right-hander Keyvius Sampson. The prospect has been nasty early on, leading the staff to believe they have a blue-chipper on their hands.

Mr. Sampson. Talk to me a little about the injury in instructs last year. You were shut down for those last couple weeks. Did it affect you at all? You talked about it being a precaution.

Keyvius Sampson: It affected me a little bit, just being off the field and not being able to play. Other than that, it was good, because it gave my arm time to rest. It just took innings off my arm. All in all, it was a good thing, because we got it under control. Hopefully, next week, I'll be out here next week throwing again.

What was the recovery process?

Keyvius Sampson: It was mostly been doing a lot of stretching and dumb bell exercises, then coming out and throwing and running a lot. It was been pretty good.

Was it something that lingered through the off-season, or are they just continuing that cautious approach from instructs?

Keyvius Sampson: It actually didn't start until the end of AZL. I went up to Eugene, Oregon, and threw an inning or two up there and it started hurting a little more. I came back to Arizona and told them about it. Then, they said, go out and have one more start and we'll see if it hurts then, which it did. So, they just shut me down. I'd never had the problem before, so it was something they wanted to monitor, instead of me just going out there and throwing.

Even through spring, though? You'd figure by then you'd be at a point where you could go back to full and get out on the mound.

Keyvius Sampson: It was pretty good, but they were just been pretty cautious about it. They wanted to take the proper precautions as far as stretching and making sure that I've had the right amount of time to rest. All season long, I did some work and stuff, but it wasn't the type of work that I do here, as far as the training and stuff. Out here, it's a little better. Feeling 100 percent now.

Now, in your delivery, you were almost throwing across your body. Has that been something they've been trying to correct and you've been trying to correct along with it?

Keyvius Sampson: Yes, sir. I've been trying to correct it. They haven't said much to me about it yet. I've been trying to correct it a little bit. I've spoken to our pitching coaches about it a couple times, and they say they've seen it before, but it's not too bad. To me, it's really bad, because it's a lot of stress on the shoulder and elbow. I've been trying to correct it a little bit. They've actually slid me over to the right side of the mound, which helps from falling to the right, because you know if you go too far to the right you end up falling off the mound. Other than that, it's been pretty good. I've been working on it. Hopefully, I can get out there and I can take what I'm doing off the field and put it on the field.

One of the things you wanted to do was get your lower half more involved in the delivery. How has that progressed?

Keyvius Sampson: Pretty good. We've actually been working on that. It's like a sit and squat thing once I get up to my balance point and then drive to the mound. It's been working out pretty good. I feel less pressure on my arm and shoulder. It's been working out pretty good. I'm ready to take it out to the field and actually face batters and stuff like that, being live instead of on the mound and doing nothing but just throwing to the catcher.

Does it feel like your velocity is creeping up to? When you're making all these changes, we all hope they're for the better.

Keyvius Sampson: Yes, sir. Actually, I feel like my delivery is a little smoother and the ball is coming out a little quicker now. I guess it's helping out a lot as far as the velocity side of it and the longevity with my arm.

Using three pitches, you almost fell in love with the fastball and curveball last year. How important is it with that pitch sequencing and mixing in the changeup a little more?

Keyvius Sampson: It's actually pretty important. My change-up is probably one of my better pitches now, as far as my outpitch. I guess you'll be seeing a lot of that this year, as far as my changeup. I'll definitely stay with my fastball-curveball sequence, too. I'm going to try to mix it up a lot, try to keep hitters off balance and things like that.

How do you improve the changeup, and what's the measure of a successful pitch?

Keyvius Sampson: As far as improving the changeup, it's basically playing toss with it, as far as long tossing and getting the feel of it, making sure you're out front, not on the side of it or underneath it. As far as the importance of it, it's very important facing team 20-30 times a year. You have to be able to mix things up in the line-up. Change it up a little bit, and not let a hitter get used to what you're doing and get into a routine. You want to mix it up and keep the hitters off balance.

Working inside more?

Keyvius Sampson: Definitely. Inside will be my main key asset this year as far as pitching goes. Me, being kind of a hard thrower, I can break a few bats hopefully.

Is there a tentativeness to throw inside sometimes? Especially as you're growing up, you don't want to drill somebody as you're learning your own control and how far you can go inside.

Keyvius Sampson: I've never had problems going inside. I've hit quite a few batters. I don't have a problem throwing inside at all. I've never been too timid to throw inside to anybody.

One thing that coaches have said is that you have intensity. What does it mean?

Keyvius Sampson: They said I had intensity? I'm not too sure. I guess he's meaning on the field, I'm always aggressive and competitive with everything I do. I'm hoping that's what he meant. I'm not too sure, but I'm pretty sure that's probably what he meant, me being aggressive and competitive all the time.

We all know you have a lot of great teammates and this does not take away from anyone you don't mention. If you could have one pitch from anyone of your teammates to put into your own arsenal, what would it be, from who, and why?

Keyvius Sampson: Oh, our team. I'd have to say… That's hard. We have quite a few good pitchers. I guess I'd have to say James Needy slider, just because I don't throw a slider and that would be a fourth pitch. I've always wanted to learn the slider. Pretty good slider. He's able to throw it on any count. That's always key when you can throw a slider 3-0, 3-2, 3-1 count. I guess I wouldn't mind having that pitch in my arsenal, too.

Who is the one hitter that you are glad you have as a teammate and why?

Keyvius Sampson: We have quite a bit of them. I'd have to say Everett Williams, because once he sees you once, he can hit you the second and third time. I'm glad he's on my team, helping me out. He's really aggressive, but he's also patient. I've faced him. We had BP and stuff like that. He's like that pain in your side. You throw a good pitch and he bounces off to third, he gets home or something.

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