The Texas Rangers are Quietly Developing a Six-Shooter in Adrian Sampson

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 22: Adrian Sampson #52 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 22, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TEXAS - MAY 22: Adrian Sampson #52 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 22, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Things are beginning to fall in place for Texas Rangers Pitcher Adrian Sampson – and after his stellar one-run outing against the Kansas City Royals, he is proving to be a quietly positive 2019 storyline for the organization.

Adrian Sampson didn’t need a Sunday-afternoon opener to find his groove. With Manager Chris Woodward providing the young-gun another shot at headlining his ballclub, the man once coined a designated long-man  kept pace with the hot, muggy weather to deliver a superb performance, going 7.0 IP, allowing 1 run on 8 hits and 0 walks, while posting a career-high 11 strikeouts in a 5-1 Texas Rangers win.

In a surprising 2019 season where the Rangers all of a sudden find themselves possessing an American League Wild-Card spot, improving upon an organizational goal of developing young talent is no-doubt still the biggest to-do marked for the calendar year.

Among the many pieces with long-term potential, you’ll find Adrian Sampson’s name hiding near the back of the line, probably tucked beneath an asterisk. A  Pittsburgh Pirates 5th round draft pick in 2012 (after not signing with the Florida Marlins, who selected Sampson with their 16th round slot a year prior), the sinker-heavy 27-year-old pitcher from Bellevue Community College may not initially scream excitement – but his progress through 58.2 IP this year should leave Jon Daniels and the Texas Rangers pumping optimism through their prospective veins.

Adrian now boasts a 4.14 ERA on his 2019 season – and the number seems to be trending down. His last four outings have seen Sampson allow 6 earned runs and 2 walks over 22.2 IP, while mowing down 21 batters via strike-three – good for a 2.38 ERA and a 10.5 K:BB ratio.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to note these are magnificent statistics for any pitcher, let alone a 2016 waiver addition who many pegged an afterthought. #52 is seizing his moment on the mound with the Texas Rangers, and he may just force their hand into penciling him in as a long-term solution.

I had the luxury of attending Sunday’s game, where I got a first-hand glimpse into the character of Adrian Sampson. I watched a pitcher who wasn’t perfect by any stretch – but one who oozed confidence and resiliency. Whether it was falling behind hitters or finding himself stuck in jams, Adrian seemed to answer his complications with a calm poise and consistent bouts of quality pitching.

Aside from posting a career-high in strikeouts, Sampson’s highlight of the day came in the 5th inning, where he successfully worked himself out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation. After getting Whit Merrifield to line-out to third base, Adrian struck out both Adalberto Mondesi and Alex Gordon to end the frame with zero damage.

Before popping up briefly with the Rangers last year, Adrian Sampson was a quietly successful pitcher in the minor leagues, posting ERAs of 3.45 in 2017 and 3.77 in 2018 over a joint 158 IP. It was through a season-ending elbow injury with the Mariners in 2016 that he found his way onto Texas soil, who decided to take a flyer on the young-gun after Seattle sent him packing.

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According to Chris Woodward, the Rangers staff began to notice Sampson more in Spring Training as his slider became increasingly effective. When given the news that Adrian totaled 9 Ks on the breaking ball coupled with 15 total swing-and-misses on the pitch today, the Texas Rangers Manager didn’t hesitate:

"That’s something we noticed in Spring Training. After a couple of outings in Spring Training, that slider was sharp and he could get some swings and misses. That’s when the conversations started happening, what’s his potential. Today … that’s the best I’ve seen his slider in a few games.”"

The development of Adrian Sampson has been an increasing noticeable storyline to follow as the 2019 season tip-toes into the hotter months. Where he goes from here is still to be determined, although it looks as if he is starting to gain more rope in that Ranger clubhouse.

"“That was amazing. Incredible. I thought even in the fifth inning he was in complete control. Physically, he wasn’t at his best and he went out there — that was amazing what he did. It showed me a lot.” – Head Coach Chris Woodward"

It wasn’t that long ago when Adrian Sampson was regarded an afterthought of a pitcher, meant to fill organizational depth while more promising prospects continued to develop in the lower-leagues. A strong string of recent play may be slowly overturning that notion, however – and his dominating effort over Kansas City may have finally clarified that message.

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Load em back up, Adrian. The Texas Rangers may have just found their next Six-Shooter.

  • Published on 06/03/2019 at 12:00 PM
  • Last updated at 06/03/2019 at 11:51 AM