Wilmington left-hander Sam Selman learned plenty about patience while pitching in college. Those lessons have given him a boost during the first two years of his Minor League career.
Selman earned Pitcher of the Year honors in the Pioneer League last year. This season, he's won his last three starts and improved to 7-5 with a 4.07 ERA with Wilmington. His seven wins are tied for second in the Carolina League.
The Royals picked Selman in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt. Selman had been picked in the 14th round by the Angels in 2009 but opted for college and learned some valuable lessons there.
"Those [first] two years at Vanderbilt, I didn't pitch a whole lot," Selman recalled. "It was just a good learning experience that kind of carried over into pro ball and gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate everything when things don't go so well."
A stable of strong upperclassmen kept Selman on the bench for most of his first two years. In fact, he pitched only 12 1/3 innings total in those first two seasons.
Selman realized that even though he wasn't a regular, he could still learn more about his craft. He began to use those lessons as he finally earning a chance to pitch in 2012, when Vanderbilt put him into the starting rotation. He struggled at first, going 0-3 in his first three starts and really getting hit hard.
Selman righted the ship after that and won his final nine decisions. The 6-foot-3, 165-pound left-hander then was picked by the Royals and went to Rookie-level Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League. That's where he went 5-4 with a 2.09 ERA, striking out 89 while walking 22. Opposing batters hit only .204 against him.
"I just carried that momentum into Idaho and then just kept attacking hitters that way," he said. "It wasn't really until this full season where I got a full grasp of Minor League Baseball. Patience is the key part there. You just have to take it start by start, and you can't get frustrated if you make a bad start."
This year's been more of the same. He struggled a little at the start, going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA in April, but has bounced back to go 4-1 in June. Opponents now are hitting .207 against Selman on the season as he's grown into a much more polished pitcher.
"He's doing a great job making adjustments after having some problems early in the season with his command," Wilmington pitching coach Steve Luebber said. "We've seen the positive signs we want to see … we're encouraged."
Shutout: Lynchburg's Ryan Weber improved to 5-3 on the season with eight shutout innings in Monday's 10-0 rout of the Carolina Mudcats. Weber struck out seven and did not walk a batter to break a personal two-game losing streak.
Clutch hit: Michael Ohlman belted a walk-off three-run homer to give the Frederick Keys a 9-7 victory over Winston-Salem on Saturday night. The homer capped a five-run ninth for the Keys and a four-RBI night for Ohlman.
Clutch hit II: The Salem Red Sox won the same way Saturday. Brandon Jacobs hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to hand Salem a 7-5 win over Carolina. It was his 10th homer of the season.