“Comfort” Key to Sampson’s Success in 2015

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Triple-A rookie Adrian Sampson is settling in at his new-found home with the Indianapolis Indians. Through six starts, the 23 year old is 2-3 with a 2.80 ERA (11er/35.1ip) and 35 strikeouts to just 10 walks.

He’s worked at least five innings in each of his six appearances while never allowing more than three earned runs.

His last and only home run on the year was during his first outing of the campaign.

“Last year was when everything started to click and I was able to pitch well all season long, and eventually got moved up to Triple-A,” Sampson said in reference to his two starts with the Indians and year-end honors the Pitcher of the Year for Double-A Altoona in 2014. “This year I’m fine-tuning everything. I got a little time [at Triple-A] last year, so I was a little more comfortable here early in the season, and it’s been huge helping my confidence.”

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Sampson also said his comfort comes from having the same catcher and pitching coach from his award-winning season with the Curve, in Elias Diaz and Stan Kyles. Together, they’ve made a formidable trio that has helped the Indians’ right-hander attack opposing hitters to the tune of the second-most strikeouts in the International League.

That total features four or more strikeouts in every start, and a stretch of four straight games with at least six punchouts.

“We’ve had a good plan going into games,” Sampson said. “Kyles, Diaz and I go through each batter before the game, and (recently), the gameplan has been to cut my fastball and throw my offspeed pitches for strikes. Batters will chase when they’re behind (in the count).”

Sampson’s lone blemish – if his season’s efforts are to be nitpicked – is 36 hits allowed in 35 1/3 innings.

Only one of those knocks has cleared the fences thus far, but 12 have gone for extra bases — Which sets up the potential cause for concern following a season-high eight hits during his last time out.

Then again, Sampson, who won that start, can take it as just part of the territory when you face quality opponents like the league’s then-top-ranked offense from Rochester.

“Sometimes good batters get hits off of good pitches,” Sampson said, “And when it happens, you just have to tip your cap.”

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That’s just a part of Sampson’s overall progression as the season has played out.

His added time in the Triple-A rotation has returned progressively better results, and after going 0-2 with a 4.35 ERA in his first two assignments, the righty has since posted a 2-1 record with a 2.16 ERA over four straight quality starts since April 21.

Sampson is getting more and more comfortable.

“It’s been fantastic being surrounded by these types of people,” Sampson said as he shared credit for this year’s success with his support from the clubhouse. “The guys are great here and they make you feel comfortable and help you when you’re down. It’s great and that’s what this clubhouse has turned into this year for me.”

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