Born: June 27, 1989
Height: 6’7″
Weight: 245
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: 3rd Round, 80th Overall, 2008 (Royals)
How Acquired: Rule 5 draft (minor league phase)
High School: Mullen (CO) HS
Agent: N/A


Sample is a big RHP who was considered raw when drafted out of high school.  His fastball in his first year sat at 92-94, reaching 96, but was in the 91-93 range in his second year.  His main secondary pitch is a knuckle curve and he also throws a change.  Baseball America ranked him as Kansas City’s 14th best prospect after his first two seasons, but his control issues got worse in full season ball.  He’s not a groundball pitcher.  He’s had reverse platoon splits as often as not since he reached full season ball.  The Pirates selected him in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 draft.

R:  0-5-0, 9.00 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, 27.0 IP, 9.7 BB/9, 13.0 K/9

Sample obviously struggled badly with his control in his debut, although he at least missed a lot of bats.

R:  0-1-0, 6.75 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 4.0 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 11.2 K/9
R+:  4-2-1, 2.84 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 50.2 IP, 3.6 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

Sample spent most of his second season in the advanced rookie Appalachian League and pitched much better, holding opponents to a .184 average.

A:  6-10-0, 4.69 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, 121.0 IP, 7.1 BB, 8.6 K/9

The Royals moved Sample up to full season ball and things didn’t go well.  Opponents hit only .231 against him, but walks were obviously a major problem.

A+:  7-12-0, 5.25 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 130.1 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

Sample continued struggling in high A.  He didn’t walk nearly as many, but he got hit harder and his K rate cratered.

A+:  1-9-0, 5.84 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 98.2 IP, 4.8 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

The Royals sent Sample back to high A for a second year and he continued to struggle.  Midway through the season he moved to the bullpen.  Overall, he had largely the same year as in 2011, except his K rate rebounded.

A+:  2-4-0, 5.06 ERA, 1.92 WHIP, 48.0 IP, 9.2 BB/9, 8.9 K/9

Sample missed the first two months of the season, then pitched mainly in relief, once again in high A.  His already-shaky control disappeared and he walked over a batter an inning.

The Pirates probably think they can help Sample make progress with the strike zone.  He hasn’t had extensive experience pitching in relief, so a move to the bullpen might help.  Nevertheless, he’ll start 2014 in the Altoona rotation.  Given that he hasn’t pitched above high A and that he walked over a batter an inning there in 2013, it’s an interesting move.

Baseball Reference–Minors
2014: Minor League Contract
Signing Bonus: $500,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: 2014
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: N/A
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
June 5, 2008: Drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 3rd round, 80th overall pick; signed on June 6.
December 12, 2013: Selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft.