The Tampa Bay Rays recently acquired Oliver Drake from the Blue Jays and needed to make room on their 40-man roster. To do this they traded away Jaime Shultz to the Dodgers and received Caleb Sampen in return. Let’s break down the young right-hander.
A product of Wright State who was taken in the 20th round of the 2018 draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Caleb Sampen now comes to the Tampa Bay Rays organization following a roster clearing move.
Sampen, a 23 year old right handed pitcher, is the son of former major league pitcher Bill Sampen, who pitched across parts of 5 season with the Expos, Angels, and Royals. Sampen finished with a career 25-21 record and a 3.73 ERA over 299.1 innings.
As for his son, Caleb was named the 2016 Freshman of the Year in the Horizon League and was named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman team. During the 2016 season, Sampen posted an impressive 2.76 earned run average across 14 starts.
He missed the entire 2017 season and returned to a lesser role in 2018. He was still effective though, making eleven appearances, throwing 47 innings and holding opposing batters to a .229 opponents average. He finished the year with a 3.26 ERA and struck out 33 while walking 14.
After agreeing to a 125,000 dollar signing bonus, the Dodgers sent Sampen to their Rookie League affiliate. There he would pitch in 13 games (11 starts).
0-2 // 30.1 IP // 5.04 ERA // 3.35 FIP // 43K/9BB // .248 opp. avg. // 12.76 K/9
The righty posted an impressive K/BB ratio and K/9 rate. A ground ball pitcher, Sampen induced ground balls at a rate of 49.4% This is largely due to his curveball that hitters drive into the ground.
Sampen relied on a two pitch mix in college that featured a low 90’s fastball and the aforementioned curveball. He uses a 3/4 arm slot and good arm action to create some added run. He is lanky coming in at 6’2″ and 185 pounds and has room to fill out as he continues to mature.
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I would look to see Caleb open with the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Rays short season single-A affiliate and then advance through the organization as his play warrants.