Friday, May 18, 2007
Twins Minor League Reports
Q&A with Kevin Slowey
Rochester Red Wings Starter
Good morning to everyone! The Twins haven't given us a whole lot to write about, at least not in a positive light. I prefer to write about positive things, and today's posting is about as positive as it gets. A couple of weeks ago, Kevin Slowey agreed to answer your questions. Many of you sent in a couple of questions. There were several really good ones. I sent them to Kevin and he responded. (Kevin did an Interactive Q&A here last July as well, which you can read here.) As you will be able to tell below, he clearly put some time into it, and I think you will enjoy it. Kevin Slowey is a great person who has really helped out this site quite a bit. He also continues to show that he is a great pitcher. He is a great pitcher who, despite the incredible upside of Matt Garza, may be the Twins top prospect. Slowey has flown through the Twins system despite not having a 98 mph fastball. He has made the adjustments at each level, with each promotion. Through seven starts this season at AAA Rochester, he has thrown 49.1 innings. He is 4-2 with a 1.46 ERA. He has an incredible three walks and 44 strikeouts. In reality, it is only a matter of time before he is in a Twins uniform. Hopefully after he gets his big league call, we will be able to do this again!
Anyway, Kevin Slowey is very quickly becoming a well-known pitching prospect outside of Minnesota. Fantasy baseball sites are touting him as a guy to grab soon. Check out his minor league (and college) numbers, as well as his 2007 numbers (above, and on the left of this screen). He deserves it all, the accolades and promotions! One more promotion to go!
But, it is now time for Kevin's Q&A, right? I would like to thank all of the readers who took the time to send me some questions for Kevin. I absolutely have to thank Kevin Slowey for taking the time to answer our questions. I hope that you will enjoy it. I think it is terrific! If you have any comments for me or Mr. Slowey, please e-mail me, and I will try to answer your questions or forward them on to him to see if we can get you an answer. But also, be sure to fill the Comments today with questions, comments or support for Kevin Slowey. As you can see in his answers, he will definitely be checking it out.
Let Your Questions Begin!
Some pundits have compared you to Brad Radke. What do
think of the comparison? Who would you compare yourself with? - Lonestar
How do you feel about the comparisons to such pitchers as Greg Maddux , Jamie Moyer and even Brad Radke. Do you feel you can be that caliber of player? - Chris Dunn
Are there any particular pitchers that you model your game after? If so, how does that help you become a better pitcher? - Matt from Champaign, IL
Kevin Slowey: Anytime you find yourself being compared to former/current major leaguers, its a good thing, but also one you need to be careful about. As much as Id like my career to end up like those players, the most important thing for me is to figure out how get hitters out with the stuff that I have, instead of trying to pitch like somebody else. Still, it's always nice to see that Major League pitchers can survive without 97 mph fastballs.
What has been your your best experience as a professional so far? - Brett T
Kevin Slowey: The best baseball experience Ive had so far was my time spent in Major League camp this past spring training. Just getting a chance to work with, and spend time with guys who have years of Major League experience was incredible and really helped me see just what it takes to make it to the big leagues.
Kevin, can you tell us a little more about the trip to Cuba, the fans, Castro and pitching in that championship game against Cuba in Havana? - Roger Dehring
Kevin Slowey: The trip to Cuba with team USA last year was one of the greatest baseball experiences Iíve ever had. The whole trip was a great reminder of why it is we all play baseball in the first place. The camaraderie on the team was awesome, especially considering we had players from all levels and 10-15 different organizations. For those two weeks, every one of us were first and foremost playing for the USA, and nobody else. The fans in Cuba were very passionate and showed up in droves for every game at every location on the island. As for the last game, it was pretty crazy. Raul Castro and Fidelís sons showed up ( but no Fidel that we know of) and about 45,000 other fans, including 10-12 US Marines who had been stationed in Cuba. I started and threw the first five innings, leaving with the lead 5-1. After a few back and forth innings, close calls and the like.. we ended up winning 8-5 and spent the next half hour running around the field like madman waving flags and taking pictures...
What do you think has been the best thing to keep in mind or the best piece of advice that has aided in your development as a professional baseball player? - Lindsay Haugen
Kevin Slowey: I really think the best thing to keep in mind as a minor league baseball player is that the road won't always be an easy one. That failures and difficulties are bound to happen, and how you respond to them is the key. Giving up hits and runs in the minor leagues is not nearly as important as what you learn from giving up those runs and hits.
In your mind, is it duck, duck, gray duck or duck, duck, goose? - Lindsay Haugen
Kevin Slowey: Duck , Duck, Goose....who ever heard of a gray duck?
Just a couple of questions about your education. Did you graduate? If not, are you taking courses during the offseason, etc.? Ė Roger Dehring
Kevin Slowey: I did not graduate, and still have one full year of classes left until I do. I was studying International Business at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. I plan on taking courses in the offseason whenever possible, but was unable to this past year because I was out in Mesa for the Arizona Fall League, which didn't finish up until Thanksgiving. Interestingly enough, my older brother will graduate twice before I can even get on the board as he finishes at Duke Law school this May.
In last Julyís interactive Q&A, you wrote: "I
feel like my report wouldn't be anything to spectacular. Most likely reading
something like.... Capable RHP who throws like a LHP. Won't blow you away
with his "stuff". Solid-average FB, SL, average CB, CH. Shows command of the
strike zone. 2-seam slight sink, 4-seam straight. Attacks hitters, tries to
get ahead..... I think that's about all the info that I'm at liberty to give
out at the moment."
How has it changed? Why so guarded? - Lonestar
Kevin Slowey: Haha, I did write that, and I think it's still a pretty accurate report. As much as Id like to think otherwise, Iím still not a "power pitcher" and certainly don't pitch like one. Since I last participated, Iíve really spent time working on my offspeed, so I might have to upgrade my CH to solid-average as opposed to just average, but otherwise I'm the same guy. As for the guarded bit, I had to put some sort of spin on my otherwise pedestrian report...donít you think?
When did you realize that you had the talent to become a major league caliber player? - Josh Williams
Kevin Slowey: I don't know that Iíve realized anything just yet, to tell you the truth. Growing up I always dreamed and hoped that I would have the opportunity to play Major League baseball, and so far that is exactly what Iíve been givenÖan opportunity. Iíve been blessed for sure, and hopefully one day Ill be able to answer how it feels to have become a major league player.
What were your impressions of Spring Training with the Twins? - Beth Miller
Kevin Slowey: My Spring Training experience was a great one. What really impressed me the most was the way that the Joe Nathans and Johan Santanas went about their everyday business. Those guys are the absolute best at what they do but are always the first ones in the clubhouse and the last ones out of the gym everyday. The time they put in is really amazing.
You have demonstrated throughout your minor league career that you are an exceptional control pitcher. But during spring training, your walks per inning was far higher than usual. Why do you think that occurred? - Jim Verlautz
Kevin Slowey: I cant help but laugh at spring training stats sometimes.. but a fair question anyway. Spring training really is just that..."training", and as much as I would have liked to have been in mid-season form right from the start...I feel like my arm would just fall off if I was. Some of those walks we close calls, others... not close at all, but overall my spring training was really getting me ready to pitch when it counted.
Kevin, you've flown under the radar as a top prospect
because you don't throw in the mid-90s. Does this lack of faith in your
abilities motivate you to prove everyone wrong? - Matt from Champaign,
Do you pitch with a slight chip on your shoulder for all the people that questioned your stuff throughout your pitching career? - Marc Downie
Kevin Slowey: I completely understand how my average velocity affects my designation as a "prospect", and while Iím not sure that my prospect status motivates me one way or the other, Iíve certainly gotten used to not it. The real thing to keep in mind when dealing with the "prospect" moniker, I think, is to realize that a prospect is really nothing more than someone who hasnít made it to the big leagues yet.....so for now, Ill just keep at it and wait to see what happens.
What has been your favorite place to play do far? Elizabethton, Beloit, Fort Myers, New Britain, or Rochester? - Brett T
Kevin Slowey: Rochester for sure. The atmosphere in the International League is great, and everything from the fans to the clubhouses have been better than I expected.
What are your thoughts on being issued #59 during spring
training (BRadke's Rookie #). Does it add extra pressure to perform, or is
it just another number? - Anders Gilbertson
What number do you want to wear with the Twins and is there any significance? - Matt Wilke
Kevin Slowey: Haha, although my spring training number really doesn't mean anything in the long run... it was a neat coincidence to have the same number as Radke in his first spring training. All in all, it really is just another number, and as much as I would like to have a career that was anything like Brad Radke's, I don't know that the 'ghost of his number' is going to offer any aid....just yet.
What is your take on signing autographs and autograph collectors in general? - Brett T
Kevin Slowey: I love singing cards, photos, baseballs...really everything except those stupid 5x2 blank note cards. Something about signing those is just odd, I mean, I'll sign them regardless... but who really wants an index card with a signature on it?
Kevin, so far this season you've demonstrated that you can
handle AAA hitters. What are the things you're currently working on
mastering that you'll need to handle big league hitters? - Jim Verlautz
First off congratulations on the fine start to the season. I was wondering if the Twins/Rick Anderson wanted you to work on anything in particular at Rochester. Ė Tony
What do you feel you need to learn or improve before you are ready for the Major Leagues? - Ruth Eppright
Kevin Slowey: Really, for right now I'm just working on being consistent, every outing giving my team a chance to win. It is much more important to concentrate on avoiding big innings or major mistakes instead of trying to be perfect with every pitch.
At AAA, you are putting up very nice numbers. I was wondering if you are pitching to hitters like you normally would, or are you emphasizing your off-speed stuff and working on them more to improve or sharpen them? If so, which one(s) do you think are your best and which are you working on the most? - Kyle Boerboem
Kevin Slowey: Haha, well thanks for keeping up. As for my approach to hitters, it really hasn't changed all that much. Each hitter is completely different that the one before him, and the next one will be completely different from the last. I try to approach each hitter individually, really as the game dictates ( inning, outs, baserunners, etc.)
Kevin what would you consider your "out pitch" when you really need to get a batter out? - Chris Dunn
Kevin Slowey: There really isn't one pitch that I would consider my out pitch to be honest. Unfortunately I don't throw 98 MPH (Zumaya), have a hammer curveball (Zito) or throw a slow motion changeup (Santana)....So I really just have to rely on the fact that I can throw any pitch in any count.
What batter(s) in college or the minors, would you least like to face with bases loaded? - Josh Williams
Kevin Slowey: Haha, probably anyone who went to Birmingham Southern College... They hit me hard every single time I threw against them.
Have you ever considered writing a blog? - Beth Miller
Kevin Slowey: I have, and I did in the Arizona Fall League this past year. It was a neat experience and I would definitely do it again.
Ask him if he really does read sethspeaks. Ė Sethís Mom
Kevin Slowey: Haha, yes I do.
Is there a friendly competition between yourself, Garza and Baker to see who's going to be that first one called up to the big league? - Marc Downie
Kevin Slowey: For sure, not than anyone has our stats on a chalkboard in the clubhouse or anything... but it is the sort of competition that brings out the best in everybody. When Baker goes out and throws well, Garza and I want to do the same thing, just as much for our team as for the opportunity to pitch in Minnesota.
What have other pitchers, such as Garza and Baker who have
been with the Twins and back, told you is the biggest challenge mentally
and/or physically as you adjust to getting MLB hitters out? Ė Matt Wilke
What did Garza and Baker tell you to be ready for when you reach "the show"? - Tony
Kevin Slowey: The biggest challenge that Iíve been told is avoiding the tendency to try and be something that you are not. Baseball is the same game in Low-A as it is in the Major Leagues, and while strategy and margin for error might vary, a player's approach to the game shouldnít. Hopefully one day Ill get a chance to let you know what my biggest challenge really 'was' instead of preparing for what it might be.
As you've progressed through the organization and are now pitching very well at AAA, do you find yourself paying more attention to what is happening with the Twins, knowing your only one phone call away? - Loren Niemi
Kevin Slowey: Believe it or not.....not really. No matter where you are within the organization, you pay attention to the players ahead and behind you. Also, because of the Spring training set-up, you get to know players 2 or 3 levels ahead or behind you and try to keep up with them too.
Which program is better... Winthrop Baseball or Winthrop Basketball? - LaVelle E. Neal
Kevin Slowey: As much as I loved the basketball program while I was at school, Iím going to have to go with the Baseball team.
Kevin, you're a pitcher who relies heavily on command. Which is more important, changing the eye level (up and down) or working both sides of the plate? (You can only choose one.) - Rich Lederer
Kevin Slowey: A good question, and honestly it depends on a lot of things... the batter, the count, previous at bats, previous pitches...Changing both the eye level and both sides of the plate are very important, but if I could only pick one I would choose eye level. I'm not sure why exactly, but it seems like sinkerball pitchers just pound low strikes and seem to do all right.
Again, thank you very much for taking the time out of your schedule to answer these questions. I think it was a lot of fun. Hopefully we can do it again after Kevin gets called up! Do you have any thoughts or questions for Kevin Slowey or me? If so, please feel free to e-mail me.
If you would like to read any previous Q&A's, here is a checklist.
Well, yesterday afternoon, the Twins were swept by the Cleveland Indians when they fell 2-0. Fausto Carmona went the complete game. The Twins got just four hits off of him. Michael Cuddyer was the only Twin to get on base twice, with a single and a walk. Justin Morneau had a double. Johan Santana was excellent. He was Johan Santana again, just as he needed to be. But even that wasn't enough. He was incredible threw the first six innings. He did not allow a run and had given up just two hits and a walk. Then in the bottom of the 7th, he gave up back to back home runs to Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko. Not a good day for the Twins. It hasn't been a good month for the Twins. I would say that the next two or three weeks will say a lot about where the Twins are and where they can go. At that point, some transactions will need to be made. But I believe that it is important to get Joe Mauer back before making that determination.
Tonight, the Twins (18-22) will be starting a three game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers (26-15). They are leading the NL Central Division by five games over the Chicago Cubs. Here are the pitching matchups for the rest of the series:
Friday- 7:05 - Boof Bonser (1-1, 4.33, 1.58, .262) vs Chris Capuano (5-1, 2.93, 1.23, .232)
Saturday - 6:05 - Scott Baker (1st start of '07) vs Dave Bush (3-3, 5.47, 1.30, .298)
Sunday - 1:05 - Ramon Ortiz (3-4, 4.89, 1.26, .262) vs Claudio Vargas (3-0, 2.93, 1.35, .260)
The Brewers are good. They have so much talent. The infield includes Prince Fielder at 1B, Rickie Weeks at 2B and JJ Hardy at SS. Fielder has 12 homers. Hardy leads the NL with 13 home runs. Right now, Craig Counsell and Tony Graffanino are playing 3B because of the post-concussion syndrome of Corey Koskie. In reality, these guys are just biding their time until Ryan Braun comes up. Billy Hall made the move to CF. Geoff Jenkins is having a resurgence. Gabe Gross hit two homers in his first two at bats yesterday, and then Kevin Mench pinch hit for him after that. Johnny Estrada came over in the offseason from Arizona and he has been excellent behind the plate. The pitching staff doesn't have a prototypical Ace, but they have five very solid guys. Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Jeff Suppan, Claudio Vargas and Dave Bush are the rotation now. But Yovani Gallardo will have to make his debut soon, and he could have the same type of affect on the Brewers that Francisco Liriano had on the Twins a year ago. Finally, Francisco Cordero, who was basically given to the Brewers from the Rangers last year, is the best closer in the National League. This is a good team, and the Twins should be happy to take one of three.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Indians, the Brewers, or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Edward Ovalle, Ft. Myers Miracle
Thursday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Alex Burnett, Beloit Snappers
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Thursday - Game 1 - Red Wings 1, Richmond 2 Ė Jeremy Cummings started this game. He went two shutout innings and struck out three, but then he left the game. Brian Bass came in and gave up a run on five hits in 2.1 innings. Ricky Barrett then was perfect for 1.2 innings. Bobby Korecky came in and got two outs before the winning run scored. Denard Span went 2-3. Alexi Casilla was 1-2 with a walk. Jose Morales had a double, and Trent Oeltjen drove in the lone run.
Thursday - Game 2 - Red Wings 3, Richmond 4 Ė Matt Garza got the start and fell to 2-3. In six innings (complete game!), he gave up four runs on five hits and a walk. He struck out just one. Alexi Casilla went 2-3 with his 8th stolen base. Matt Moses went 2-4 with his seventh double. Doug Deeds was 1-1 with two walks and his second home run.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Thursday - Game 1 - Rockcats 4, Harrisburg 3 (9) Ė Trevor Plouffe went 3-4 in this game including two doubles, the second of which drove in the game winning run in the bottom of the 9th inning. He has 11 doubles. Rashad Eldridge went 2-4 with his fourth double. Brandon Roberts went 3-4 with two RBI and his 2nd and 3rd doubles. His batting average is now up over .230. Brad Baker got the start and gave up two runs on three hits in 6.1 innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Jay Sawatski struck out two in 1.1 shutout innings. Tim Lahey picked up his first win despite giving up a run on a hit and two walks in 1.1 innings.
Thursday - Game 2 - Rockcats 6, Harrisburg 3 Ė Jesse Floyd had a nice start. He gave up two runs on eight hits in six inning. He did not allow a walk and struck out six. Brian Forystek gave up a run in his inning of relief. Brian Buscher went 3-4 with a double. Garrett Guzman went 2-3 with a walk and a double. David Winfree went 1-2 with a walk and his 8th double.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Thursday - Miracle 8, Tampa 5 - The Miracle bats continued to stay hot. They scored eight runs on nine hits. Edward Ovalle went 4-4 with three runs scored. Jay Rainville started and went five innings. He gave up three runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out seven. Angel Garcia gave up a run on three hits and two walks in just 1.1 innings. David Shinskie picked up his third win by giving up just a run on four hits in two innings. Eddie Morlan got the save by getting the final two outs.
Thursday - Snappers 2, Peoria 1 Ė Danny Valencia appears to have his doubles swing back. He hit his sixth and seventh doubles in four at bats. Joe Benson also went 2-4 with his third double. Alex Burnett gave up only an unearned run on four hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out three. Dan Leatherman improves to 4-1 with two perfect innings. Armando Gabino's ERA dropped to 0.82 with a scoreless inning. Robert Delaney's ERA dropped to 0.81 as he recorded his 12th save with a scoreless ninth.
Do you have any further thoughts on any Twins prospects, minor leaguers, or these summaries? I would love any input, or ideas to make it better. Thanks! E-mail me, or also feel free to leave comments below.
Let me know what you think. Send me an e-mail, or let's talk about it in the Comments here. That is it for today!|
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