Minor league report: Newcomer Sampson is surprise of Curve staff
Notwithstanding trouble Thursday and Friday during the first two games of a series in Akron, the Curve's starting pitching has been effective so far.
“Our starters have really performed well,” pitching coach Stan Kyles said last week. “I'm encouraged by the way these guys have started the season, and I'm looking forward to them pitching a lot better as we go on.”
Adrian Sampson, Tyler Sample, Nick Kingham and A.J. Morris mostly have met or exceeded expectations, and Joely Rodriguez, who struggled early, has recorded two solid starts in his past three outings.
If there is a surprise, Kyles said, it is Sampson.
“I hadn't seen him before this year,” Kyles said. “It's just his work ethic. The way he prepares and the way he attacks hitters.
“He's low-maintenance, yet he has a thirst for knowledge. He just wants to learn.”
A right-hander taken in the fifth round out of junior college in 2011, Sampson pitched two seasons at Low-A State College and High-A Bradenton. He posted a combined 8-11 record and 4.20 ERA. After a rocky outing Thursday, his ERA climbed to 2.27.
On Friday, Sample, a 6-foot-7, 245-pound right-hander, could not get past the first inning, allowing three runs (two earned) in his second straight subpar start. But his ERA is respectable at 3.38.
Kingham, one of the Pirates' highest-rated pitching prospects, had the same ERA going into Saturday's game against Akron. Morris, who has pitched mainly in relief, has yielded one run in 14 innings over three starts.
Brandon Mann is not part of the rotation, but the right-hander had an effective spot start when he yielded one run and five hits in five innings April 21.
It has been an interesting journey for Mann, who turns 30 next week. Drafted by Tampa Bay in the 27th round in 2002, the right-hander has pitched for nine minor league teams, including the Curve. He also spent three seasons in Japan, pitching for Yokahama of the Japanese Central League in 2011 and 2012, and for Shinano, an independent league club, in 2013 after trying out with the Nationals.
The gift of progress
Gift Ngoepe, the Curve's South African shortstop, has improved greatly from last season.
In 72 games with the Curve in 2013, Ngoepe hit .177 and struck out 82 times. He had an on-base percentage of .278 and a slugging percentage of .282.
Through Friday, Ngoepe was hitting .252 with a .377 OBP and .412 slugging percentage. He also had 21 walks compared with 28 all of last season, with 11 extra-base hits, four fewer than in 2013. His strikeout rate also is down.
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.