PIO notes: Selman maintains momentum

Chukars southpaw attributes final year in college for success

By Greg Rachac / Special to MLB.com | August 16, 2012 8:17 AM ET

Sam Selman describes his stellar rookie season in the Pioneer League as a continuation of the momentum he gained during his final year at Vanderbilt University.

In 13 starts as a junior this past spring, the left-hander posted a 9-3 record with a 3.55 ERA. He had 80 strikeouts in 76 innings to help the Commodores to the championship game of the NCAA Regional in Raleigh, N.C.

In June, the Kansas City Royals took Selman in the second round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft (No. 66 overall). Now in Idaho Falls, Selman has so far delivered on high expectations.

"It helps that I had a good end of the season in college," said the lanky, 6-foot-3 Selman. "I kind of had some momentum and I've carried it into Minor League ball.

"I've pretty much just kept with the same game plan and kept the same mentality. That really helped me carry the momentum into this."

With a consistent mid-90s fastball and an elusive slider, there's no question Selman has the arsenal to dominate. And he has.

In nine professional starts, Selman has posted a 5-1 record with a 1.33 ERA, the best of any qualifying starter in the Pioneer League. His 73 strikeouts are the most in the league, as is his astronomical 14-to-1 ratio of Ks per nine innings.

Opponents are hitting just .195 against Selman, and he has given up only three hits all year against left-handed hitters. Lefties are batting just .079 against him with 16 strikeouts.

Selman has made a big splash with Idaho Falls manager Omar Ramirez in several facets. But Ramirez is especially taken by one attribute.

"Confidence," Ramirez said. "My goodness, he has so much confidence that he can get out of any situation. He hasn't had many bad situations this year, but you can see his poise on the mound. For his first year in pro baseball, that's impressive."

Selman put together a 21 2/3 scoreless inning streak this season, snapped when he gave up a run in the fifth inning of an Aug. 14 game in Billings. Still, the combination of his fastball -- which he says tops out around 98 mph -- and a tough slider has made Selman virtually unhittable.

He admits, though, that he needs to keep developing his changeup to have continued success.

"It's coming along," Selman said. "I definitely have to throw it more. When I got here it was pretty much just fastball and slider. But I need to have a third pitch. It really helps out. Not that the games don't matter, but it's more important to get ahead of guys and actually learn how to throw that changeup so it helps me at higher levels."

Selman is on the fast track to further prosperity. He hopes one day to pitch in the Major Leagues, just like fellow Vanderbilt product and dominant lefty David Price has dominated with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Selman's done his best David Price impression in his first professional season this year in the Pioneer League.

"My expectations are to have success early on and try not to put too much pressure on myself," Selman said. "But at the same time I want to do well and kind of prove my value to my teammates. Being drafted in the second round, obviously you're going to be a pretty good player. And trying to fulfill those expectations is important."

In brief

Batting title banter: The race for the Pioneer League batting title has heated up, pitting Orem's Joel Capote against Grand Junction's David Dahl. Both were hitting .374 entering action Aug. 15, and both are batting nine points better than Billings' Seth Mejias-Brean.

Movin' on up: Billings lefty Ismael Guillon got a promotion to Class A Dayton of the Midwest League on Aug. 14. Guillon earned it after posting a 4-1 record with a 2.29 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51 innings.

A better half: Orem got off to a poor start to begin the season, going 1-9 in its first 10 games. But the Owlz have turned the tide and are in the driver's seat in the South Division with an 11-5 second-half record. And they've protected their turf with a 6-2 mark at The Home of the Owlz.

Greg Rachac is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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