Minor League Prospect Report: Sam Selman, LHP, Kansas City Royals
When the Kansas City Royals chose Vanderbilt lefty Sam Selman in the second round of the 2012 draft, they knew they were getting a live arm, albeit one considered rather raw. Things look somewhat different now, with Selman having an outstanding pro debut, earning Pitcher of the Year honors in the Pioneer League and showing more polish than he did in college.
Selman is a 6-3, 195-pound lefty born in Austin, Texas on November 14, 1990. Scouts were well-aware of him in high school, but his signability was in question and he fell to the 14th round in the 2009 draft as a result. The Angels couldn't sign him, so he went off to college ball at Vanderbilt.
He barely pitched for the Commodores at first, throwing just six innings in 2010 and six more in 2011. He moved into the starting rotation for 2012 and performed decently, posting a 3.55 ERA with an 80/43 K/BB in 76 innings with 66 hits allowed. He showed a 91-95 MPH fastball, premium heat for a lefty, but control problems and erratic secondary pitches kept him out of the first round.
The Royals picked him in the second, signed him for $781,600, then sent him to the Idaho Falls Chukars in the Pioneer League this summer. He was terrific, posting a 2.09 ERA, whiffing 89 in just 60 innings, allowing only 45 hits. He walked 22, but that's fewer free passes than he gave up in college, and he was knocked for only one homer with a 2.56 GO/AO ratio.
Sabermetrically, the combination of strikeouts and grounders with improved control is a big positive. Scouting-wise, he showed the same 91-95 heat he did in college, with sink. Best of all, his slider was much better than it was in college, showing plus and helping him hold left-handed hitters to a mere .164 average.
Selman still needs work with his changeup, and we'll have to see if his command holds at higher levels, but there are a lot of things to like here: a fresh arm, good stuff, evident progress with his slider. He had an easy time in his first look at pro hitters, despite a park/league environment that isn't friendly for pitchers.