So the big league club lost a Wolf. Ross departed, accepting a wheelbarrow full of cash from Korean club, SK Wyverns. But there's a new wolf coming to take his place. This wolf isn't much bigger, but he has an additional consonant, and 10 miles an hour of extra cheese on his fastball. Sam Wolff is on his way.
Texas used 6 of their first 10 picks in the 2013 draft on right handed, collegiate pitchers. Sam Wolff was the 6th round selection, making it an even trifecta of draft day calls for the South Dakota native. Originally a 42nd round pick in 2009 and at once a 47th round pick in 2011, Sam spurned both the Angels and Red Sox respectively in favor of gettin' better at the college level. After a freshman sojourn to the University of San Diego, and an NCAA side-stepping stop at famed College of Southern Nevada (think Bryce Harper), Sam spent his final two years of collegiate eligibility as a Lobo of New Mexico. This is where, pardon the old-school scouting expression, he became a dude. Elevating his fastball velocity into the mid-90s while working to refine his mechanics, put him on the major league map. Staying on the map as a prospect is the next murderous challenge, but thanks to a life spent around the game, when they send in The Wolff, he'll prolly be ready.
Sam was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. Now before you go and snapjudge his isolated upbringing in a desolate place devoid of baseball mojo, let me stop you. Sure, they don't have big time high school ball, and they have snow on the ground for a healthy chunk of the year, but these are no baseball neophytes. Google "American Legion Post 22" and you'll realize South Dakota's second largest city (Pop. ~67K) takes it's baseball seriously. They love the game and they're puttin' out some good product. One such product is Sam's father, Steve. This is where it gets cool. Sam's father was a Post 22 teammate of current Frisco Rough Riders pitching coach Jeff Andrews. Steve Wolff is also one of the only people in the world who can relate to how cool Sam felt while wearing the sparkling uniform of the Spokane Indians; because Steve was once a Spokane Indian himself. A 13th round pick out of Oral Roberts (Chi Chi Alert!) by the Padres in the 1983 draft, Steve spent three season in the minors, the first of which was with the Indians. Steve hit .258 for the '83 Indians club that managed to win a sparse 19 games against 50 losses. That Indians team did, however, feature an 18 year-old noodle-armed kid with a questionable follow through named Mitch Williams, who averaged 5.4BB/9 innings. If and when Sam makes it to the show, it's likely he won't be the only Stevens High School Raider currently playing in a three-tiered stadium. Infielder du jour Mark Ellis is a Stevens alum and a proud member of the 1993 American Legion Post 22 (nickname: "Hardhats") 70 Win-5 Loss, National Championship club. Sam is a kid who grew up around the game, grew up loving the game, and grew up learning the game.
The fun thing about a kid like Sam is that he could be a fast mover. Following draft day, the 22 year-old was immediately dispatched to Spokane where he treated the other teams like misbehaving children. Working exclusively out of the 'pen, Sam racked up 6BB/21K in 16.1ip. The Rangers decided 10 games of short-season ball was enough for the mature fireballer and he was bumped up to Hickory for their ultimately unsuccessful late-season playoff push. But it wasn't unsuccessful for Sam as he continued to torment hitters with premium velocity and control that had not always been an earmark of his progress in college. 11 appearances as a Crawdad, 13.2ip, 3BB/23K. So if you're keeping score at home, after being drafted in June, Sam pitched in 21 games across two levels and managed 9BB/44K in 30 innings pitched. Yeah, that's cool. Now you see why I wanted to make sure you know this kid. If he keeps throwing strikes, he's definitely gonna be one to watch. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, he's one to watch now! Sturdy build, good secondaries, premium velocity, not a knucklehead. I'm in!
Sam graciously offered to answer some of my inane questions and for that I'm thankful. So without further ado, South Dakota native---SAM WOLFF!:
1. How tall are you and how much weight do you weigh right now?
I am 6’1’’and 200 lbs.
2. What pitches do you throw from the mound?
I throw a 4-seam fastball, 2-seam fastball, curve, and changeup
3. 2-2 count, man on 2 and 3rd (inherited, of course) you’re unleashing a 4-seamer right?
I do like to use my 4-seam fastball often as long as I’m locating it well.
4. If you are back home and only have 1 day to show a stranger one of your favorite sites, are we going to Deadwood, Sturgis, Mt. Rushmore, or the Crazy Horse Memorial?
I am definitely going to take them to Mt. Rushmore.
5. You touched 100 a couple times on a few guns this summer. Had you done that before 2013?
Actually, this was the first year that I have hit 100 mph.
6. The coldest temperature you’ve ever experienced is?
My senior year of high school I remember it was about -15 with a wind chill of -47. I remember driving to school and the guy talking on the radio saying that people shouldn’t be outside for more than 15 minutes because uncovered skin could get frostbite.
7. You ever get that degree in accounting from UNM? How important is that to you?
I am two semesters away from my Accounting degree at UNM and hope to finish that sometime soon. Education has always been very important to me, so getting my degree will be a great achievement.
8. You mentioned that the pitching coach at UNM, Dan Spencer "cleaned up your mechanics." What specifically did you refine with him?
He helped me a lot this past year mechanically. He made me less rotational with my shoulders and helped me stay in-line towards the plate, which ended up helping my location and velocity.
9. This kid Chleborad any good?
Yes, he is. I worked out with Tanner Chleborad a little bit over last Christmas break. He has a lot of talent and a great work ethic. I believe he has a chance to go far in the game.
10. I gotta ask; why 3 schools in 3 years and what made UNM the right choice in the end?
My first school that I went to, USD, wasn’t the best fit for me so I transferred to the College of Southern Nevada so that I didn’t have to sit out a year with the NCAA. I went on a recruiting trip to UNM and immediately loved the place. Albuquerque has become home for me in the off-season. The facilities are top-notch, the coaches were great, the community is supportive, and overall it was a perfect fit for me.
11. What should we know about your 4 brothers?
They have all been very supportive and have always pushed me to be better my entire life. I wouldn’t be in this position if it were not for all of them.
12. True or False; the Spokane Indians uniform (also once worn by your father) is the coolest uni you’ve ever sported.
13. The pitch you most want to improve in 2014 is? Why?
I really want to improve my change-up. The change-up can be such an effective pitch and if I can learn to throw it where I want and when I want, than I feel it will help my pitching career.
14. I always ask the minor leaguers if/when you make it to the bigs, who’s the person you most want to see in the stands when you make your debut?
I want to see my grandparents in the stands. When I was growing up they came to every single game of mine and have always been very supportive through my baseball career. They haven’t gotten to see me pitch since high school so it would be a real treat to have them there for my debut.
15. Post 22 is bad ass, but you guys ever carry a chip on your shoulder against some of the kids from places like Florida or Texas that play competitive ball year ‘round?
I don’t believe we ever had a chip on our shoulder towards those kids, however we always wanted to show them that we could compete with anyone even though we were stuck inside from snow for half of the year.
16. Did you give any thought to going to ORU and following in your father’s footsteps?
Ever since I was young I’ve wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, however I really wanted to go somewhere new that I could experience for myself.
17. Do you see yourself as a starter or a reliever?
Right now I see myself as a starter.
So that's it. There's your Sam T. Wolff primer. That last answer is fun and juicy, isn't it? Pay attention, they could be sending The Wolff to a stadium near you.
As always, thanks for reading. Viva MiLB! Love Ya!