Padres Prospect Interview: Keyvius Sampson

Eugene, OR: Keyvius Sampson was selected by the Padres in the fourth-round of the 2009 draft out of Ocala Forest High School in Florida where the team was able to buy him out of a full scholarship commitment to attend Florida State University by paying him second round money.

The 6-foot-1 Sampson, 19, may not have the size that everyone looks for in a pitcher but he does have the velocity and movement on his fastball that everyone does like coming in consistently in the low-90s.

Last year, everyone caught a glimpse of what he may be able to accomplish in limited appearances in the Arizona League and Eugene, but this year in the Northwest League has provided a better indication of what he may be able to accomplish.

Instead of sending him to full-season Fort Wayne, the team kept him behind in extended spring training to both refine his delivery and to gradually increase the innings that they eventually expect him to throw as a pro.

We caught up with him after his first successful start of the new season with Eugene.

What have you been doing since spring training until now, the start of the season in Eugene?

Keyvius Sampson: Just been working on different things, mainly working on my delivery and getting stronger in my lower body. We have been playing some games, but the opener was my true first game in along time.

You had an opportunity to go to Florida State as compared to going pro. It seems to me that there is so much more emphasis on development and protecting your arm than there would be in college.

Could you go through how the team slowly built you up?

Keyvius Sampson: When I first got here in spring training we were going one inning at a time or 20 pitches. Then we went up at about five pitches at a time. At the end, I was throwing 60 pitches each time.

(Opening) night I was supposed to be 75pitches or five innings and I went five and 81; so it was a pretty good outing.

Its really about developing your mechanics and getting stronger and not trying to rush anything.

So far what do you see as your biggest improvement since becoming a pro?

Keyvius Sampson: Being more consistent with my fastball, being able to put it where I want. My breaking and off-speed pitches have also improved.

I throw a two and four-seam fastballs. The four-seamer is mainly outside, the two-seamer is to run inside on righties. Keep the ball low, elevate it every now and then to change the eye level. My breaking pitch is a curveball.

Was it tough for you to get used to throwing inside more as you have to with wooden bats?

Keyvius Sampson: No, I've always liked to throw the ball inside even with aluminum bats. I love throwing inside and moving guys off of the plate.

[laughs] I'm a little old school in that way.

This is your first year out of high school so it must be a tremendous change off of the field, living on your own and becoming more responsible. How do you keep from not going out and partying too much?

Keyvius Sampson: [laughs] You know my parents raised me right, and people around me tell me that they know people who had a lot of talent but did make the most of it. It's important to let your body rest and I have a lot of people in my ear telling me that I need to stay motivated and focused.

Also, I love going out on the field and don't want to take two steps back, but I want to reach my goals of making the major leagues.

It doesn't sound like you have any regrets about picking to go pro out of high school?

Keyvius Sampson: No regrets at all because my dreams and goal have always been to become a major leaguer. I still want to get my education but there is no quicker route to get to the majors than what I am doing now.

What is the one part of your game that you are really looking upon to improve upon this year?

Keyvius Sampson: Fastball command and getting ahead to where I don't use that many pitches.

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