Phillies Prospect #37: Julian Sampson

Julian Sampson took a step back in 2009, but should have the talent that he'll need to rebound in 2010. Struggling with his secondary pitches got Sampson into trouble as better hitters knew what to do with mistakes when he launched them.

Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2007 Draft
Bats: R   Throws: R
Height: 6' 5"  Weight: 210 pounds
Birth Date: January 21, 1989
2009 Team(s): GCL (6 G), Clearwater (17 G)
Games/Games Started: 23 G / 19 GS
School: Skyline HS (Washington)
2009 Ranking: 20

Why Sampson fell to #37: In 2008, Julian Sampson made a successful jump from the Gulf Coast League to Low-A Lakewood and put up strong numbers that were impressive for a pitcher drafted out of high school. In 2009, making the move to Clearwater proved to be somewhat disastrous for the right-hander and he never did find his groove with the Threshers. From there, he was dropped back to the Gulf Coast League, but struggled there, as well, which is genuine cause for concern coming into 2010. It's very possible that Sampson just encountered too much too fast and he has the tools to rebound this season.

CATEGORY Julian Sampson Florida State League
ERA 7.36 3.55
H/9 IP 12.0 8.6
HR/9 IP 1.3 0.5
BB/9 IP 3.5 3.2
KO/9 IP 4.8 7.3
WHIP 1.72 1.31
WP/9 IP 0.8 0.5
A player's stat posted in white indicates that he performed above the league average in that category. A player's stat posted in black indicates that he performed below the league average in that category.

Repertoire: Sampson's secondary pitches - a slider and change-up - simply haven't been good enough to get better hitters out and hitters at Clearwater were able to eat him alive by laying off his secondary pitches, which he wasn't able to consistently throw for strikes, and sitting on his fastball. There was also some concern that Sampson may have been tipping his pitches in some way that hitters were able to tell what was coming. His fastball has good velocity in the low-to-mid-90s, but doesn't always have the movement to surprise hitters.

Pitching Style: Without a full arsenal of pitches, Sampson has had to rely too much on his fastball and lacked the control that he will need to get hitters out at the higher levels. He allowed 1.3 home runs per nine innings last season after allowing just 0.3 per nine in 2008, a sure sign that his fastball is sitting up in the zone too much and better hitters are able to take advantage of that. When he can keep the fastball down in the zone, he gets a good amount of ground balls and is willing to rely on his defense to make plays behind him, but his mistakes came a little too often last season.

Projection: It doesn't have to be back to square one for Sampson. With a good showing in camp, there wouldn't be any reason to hold him back until the short-season leagues begin in June, but there also isn't much of a reason to push him back to Clearwater if he isn't ready. Starting the season back at Lakewood might give him the chance to gain some confidence and continue to work on his pitches. It would be much better for Sampson to start low and move up during the season than to face having to be bumped down a level or two again during the season. The Phillies also have to decide if they want to use him as a starter or reliever, which they experimented with last season and the results weren't all bad. He pitched in four games out of the bullpen and posted a 4.69 ERA in those appearances compared to his 7.10 ERA and 2-10 record in 19 starts last season. If his secondary pitches don't start to show substantial development, he will definitely be best suited to pitching in relief.

Julian Sampson's career stats

2007 GCL  0 0 0.00 1 0 0 2.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
2008 Lakewood 11 4 4.33 25 25 0 135.0 152 73 65 5 52 69
2009 GCL 0 1 5.31 6 4 0 20.1 26 12 12 3 5 12
2009 Clearwater 3 9 7.36 17 15 0 69.2 93 59 57 10 27 37
2009 2 Teams 3 10 6.90 23 19 0 90.0 119 71 69 13 32 49
3 Seasons 14 14 5.31 49 44 0 227.0 271 144 134 18 84 119

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