Looking back at Royals top 20 prospects: #16 Sam Selman

I had the chance to watch MLB.com’s midseason number 16 prospect for the KC Royals a lot in 2013. Sometimes, it was hard to watch and the games were usually long.

Number 16 is the second straight left-handed pitcher, starter Sam Selman. He spent the entire 2013 season with High-A Wilmington after dominating rookie ball in 2012. Selman signed out of Vanderbilt following his junior season. MLB.com did not rank him in the Royals top 20 prior to this season.

Sam Selman (Jen Nevius)

Sam Selman (Jen Nevius)

Before the Carolina League All-Star break, Selman was 5-5 with a 4.79 ERA in 13 starts. Problem is, he only threw 56.1 innings. That is less than five innings a start. He walked 43 and struck out 49, though opponents only hit .218 against him.

I saw Selman make three straight starts (June 5th, June 15th, and June 22nd). He was not bad (he won all three starts), but he regularly needed to be coached through the starts via constant visits from catchers Kenny Swab and Parker Morin and pitching coach Steve Luebber. He walked four batters each in his first two starts and hit a batter in each. His best start of the three was the last (the 22nd) when he walked just one and allowed three singles over five scoreless innings. Selman struck out six.

The last time I saw Selman pitch was on July 28th when he allowed one run on four hits and three walks over five innings. He struck out eight, but hit two batters.

His best start of the season came after one of his worst against the same team. On August 24th (his next to last start of the season), he threw eight no-hit innings in Potomac while striking out 11. He walked two.

Selman‘s second half (6-4 with a 2.22 ERA) earned him Wilmington’s Pitcher of the Year honors and he was honored in Kansas City at the end of the big league season. In 14 second half starts, he threw 69 innings and struck out 79 (compared to 42 walks).

Blue Rocks manager Vance Wilson regularly said that opponents never hit Selman hard, but he needed to pitch more in the strike zone to get batters to actually swing. Opponents hit just .178 against him in the second half and he only allowed three total home runs on the season.

Selman could begin the season back in Wilmington as the ace of a young staff or he could earn a promotion and pitch in Double-A in 2014. It all depends on his control and his mechanics in spring training.

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