Friday, July 14, 2006
Twins Minor League Reports
Q&A with Kevin Slowey
New Britain Rockcats Starter
Good morning to everyone! Thanks for bearing with me on a necessary off-day for me!! Welcome back to SethSpeaks! I am really excited about the headline story today, but there are a lot of other minor league notes that I think people will find quite interesting, so please be sure to check it out.
About three weeks ago, we had an interactive Q&A with then Rochester Red Wings closer Pat Neshek. Soon thereafter, Neshek was promoted to the Minnesota Twins bullpen. Today, I am posting the responses to your questions for Kevin Slowey. The Twins pitching prospect was kind enough to take the time to answer any questions that you could come up with. As you will see below, he answers them all very well. Kevin first did a Q&A for this site last October following his first pro season. He also participated every week in my NFL "Expert" Picks, by picking the winners of all of the football games. So, if we do an interactive Q&A with Slowey now, can we help him get promoted to the Twins... or at least to the Rochester Red Wings?
Known for his impeccable control, Slowey is rarely looked at as a top pitching prospect? Why not? Well, for one reason, his fastball only hits 90 or 91. Aside from that number, the rest of his numbers are absolutely amazing! Combined between Ft. Myers and New Britain, Slowey has ten walks and 116 strikeouts in just 120.1 innings. Simply amazing. His AA numbers may not look as impressive yet, but that is because he gave up four earned runs in 6.2 innings in his AA debut. He was very strong in his next two starts including a 2-1 loss. I like to compare Slowey to Mike Mussina. He doesn't throw hard either. He is a very smart guy and a smart pitcher. And, I am sure that Kevin Slowey would tell you that if he had a career near what Mussina has had, he will be thrilled.
Anyway, Kevin Slowey is quickly becoming a well-known pitching prospect outside of Minnesota (as you can see in the Minor League Notes section). However, check out his minor league (and college) numbers, as well as his 2006 numbers (on the left of this screen). He deserves it all, the accolades and promotions!
But, I am sure you are ready to read Kevin's Q&A now, huh? Again, I must thank all of the readers who took the time to send me some questions for Kevin. I also must thank Kevin Slowey for taking the time to answer our questions. I hope that you will enjoy it as I know I did. 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. Maybe he'll read it!?
Let Your Questions Begin!
"If you were an advance scout, how would you write your advance scouting report? " - From Steve
Kevin Slowey: 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.
"Do you understand that you're not considered a top major league prospect because of your velocity, and how does that affect your psyche as you attempt to climb the ladder?" - Todd from Uptown
Kevin Slowey: Yes, I do understand that I'm not considered a top major league prospect, and yes I can't throw 94-98. That said, especially within the Twins organization, the emphasis is on getting hitters out any way you can. The whole "top prospect" thing doesn't really affect me that much simply because all being a prospect really means, is that you haven't made it to the big leagues yet.
"Although you have only had a few starts in the Eastern league, what are the differences you have noticed between the hitters in the two leagues?" - from Roger Dehring
"What did you notice, if anything, from your first start in New Britain as opposed to Ft. Myers?" - from Tony Lasky
Kevin Slowey: AA is a pretty significant jump form Hi-A, and It seems like it might be the biggest jump between any 2 levels in the minor leagues. For one, the FSL was really a pitchers league, playing in big parks, in humid conditions and pitching from great mounds. The EL on the other hand, really seems to be a hitters league. The parks are smaller, the mounds are a little flatter, and the hitters are a lot more mature. The second thing is that most every team in the EL has 1 or 2 guys on it who have been up to the big leagues, and usually a handful of guys who are 25-28. This really weeds out the hitters who you can make a mistake pitching to and still get away with it. By no means is AA impossible, but the caliber of the hitters really forces you to be focused every pitch.
"Kevin, what changes do you think you will need to make to be as successful in the Eastern League as you were in Florida?" - from Roger Dehring
Kevin Slowey: For me to be successful in the Eastern League I'm really going to have to develop a better pitch mix that I can throw in any situation. A lot of pitchers in Hi-A, specifically in the FSL are primarily fastball pitchers, thanks to the parks, mounds, etc. But in AA, as I found out in my first start, Fastballs aren't always the way to go when you are in trouble. The best pitchers have the ability to throw any pitch in any count, and that's what I need to develop in order to really succeed.
"Is there any other position on the field that you'd like to play?" - from Beth Miller
Kevin Slowey: Believe it or not, I'd really like to catch. It just seems like a cool position, probably really physically taxing, but still fun. Plus, just like pitching you get to be involved in every play.
"Do you like having a DH or would you rather go to the plate yourself?" - from Beth Miller
Kevin Slowey: I would love to get a chance to hit for myself every once in a while, but considering I haven't taken a real swing in 3 years now might keep me from being too productive. I'll stick with the DH for now.
"What were you studying at Winthrop?" - from Beth Miller
Kevin Slowey: International Business, which was just a Marketing Degree with a Minor In Spanish.
"Do you follow real closely how each of the higher-level teams in the Twins organization, i.e., New Britain, Rochester, are doing as far as player performance, perhaps looking for holes in the pitching rotations that you'd like to fill?" - from Joe Ruppert, Papillion, Nebraska
Kevin Slowey: Everybody in the organization sort of loosely follows everyone in the organization, both ahead and behind them. I think the reason for this is partly to get an idea of who is ahead of you on the depth chart, and party just to keep up with guys you worked out with all during spring training, or instructional league, etc. For example, I keep tabs on all the guys I played with in Instructs and Spring Training, from Loek Van Mil to Ricky Barrett.
"Kevin, Congratulations on your great year so far. Do they have advance scouts in the minors, or are you on your own to figure out how to pitch certain players?" - from Tony Lasky
Kevin Slowey: Well we don't have advance scouts in the minors, but you are certainly not on your own figuring things out. We get a lot of help from our pitching coaches and managers who take notes and write up reports on all the other players in the league for trades and rule V information. Also, our catchers do a great job of keeping track of which guys hit which pitches and we do our best to discuss pitching strategies even before the game starts.
"Your numbers at Fort Myers were actually better than Matt Garza's. Did it bother you when he was promoted and you weren't? Did anyone to you explain why he was sent up first? Now that you are teammates again, do you have a friendly rivalry going?" - from James M.
Kevin Slowey: Ha ha, yes my numbers were better than matt Garza's, but part of that was because he was gone about 6 starts before I was. It didn't bother me when Matt was moved up because he was certainly deserving of the promotion, and showed it by really pitching well as soon as he arrived in New Britain. Believe it or not, no one really explains much to players when it comes to promotions, demotions, and releases. The reason being, a lot of those moves come straight from the top as a result of any number of reasons from injuries to family emergencies, so we really just sit back, do our job and wait for someone to hand us our next plane ticket. As for the rivalry part, I think every pitcher on a staff really works to be the best, and is pushed by the other guys on the staff. If one guy throws a shutout, or strikes out 12 in a game, its the next guys turn to go out and do the same.
Kevin, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions so well. I am sure that fans will understand just how busy the players are during the season. Kevin was on his All-Star break and still took the time to answer questions, and we thank him!
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:
I don't really have a lot of new information on last night's game, but did note a few things. I am sure there are others, so please feel free to e-mail me or leave some Comments below.
Last night, Francisco Liriano proved to be human, and the Cleveland Indians bats reminded us that they have a lot of talent on their roster! Liriano gave up five runs on five hits. He walked three and struck out six. My general thoughts from watching him is that he just did not look the same. He didn't look injured at all, but he just looked even more lackadaisical than usual. I am not saying that he was, or ever is when he pitches. His motion, delivery and follow-through are so smooth it looks almost effortless. The three home runs allowed are really uncharacteristic. As Ron Gardenhire said after the game, this could be a very good thing for the development and career of Liriano. It seemed that so much was coming so easily for him. It will be good for him to realize the he has to come ready to pitch and with his best start every game. It is especially important against a good offense like Cleveland's.
It is a little scary to hear that Jason Kubel was removed from the starting lineup last night because his knees were sore. After missing all of 2005 with a torn knee, there has to be concern. But, it must not be anything too serious as he did pinch hit for Jason Bartlett in the 9th inning.
Lew Ford strained his right oblique last night. There is already talk about recalling Jason Tyner, and maybe sending a pitcher down to Rochester (Willie Eyre?). Unless Ford is put on the Disabled List, it would just make a lot of sense to send a pitcher down to have enough hitters available.
I know I mention this in the Minor League section too, but I think it warrants mention in the Twins Thoughts too. Matt Garza has been promoted from New Britain to Rochester. My thought was that he would get promoted to Rochester, but maybe after a few more starts. He is on the same path as Scott Baker was two years ago and Jesse Crain was the year before. From Ft. Myers to Rochester in a season. However, I think it is entirely possible that if the Twins make a deal in July involving Kyle Lohse or particularly Carlos Silva, Matt Garza may be the next guy promoted to the big leagues. The 2005 draft pick seems to be very close to being ready.
Tonight, the Twins continue their four game series against the Cleveland Indians. Here are the pitching matchups for the rest of the series:
Friday- 7:10 - Brad Radke (7-7, 5.13, 1.60, .336) vs Paul Byrd (6-6, 4.31, 1.33, .273)
Saturday - 6:10 - Johan Santana (9-5, 2.95, 1.00, .221) vs CC Sabathia (7-4, 3.51, 1.14, .232)
Sunday - 12:10 - Carlos Silva (4-9, 7.00, 1.62, .343) vs Jake Westbrook (1-2, 7.47, 1.47, .277)
Former Twins hero Gary Gaetti was fired on Wednesday by the Houston Astros. He was the hitting coach the last two-plus seasons.
Do you have any thoughts on the Twins, the Astros, the Cubs, or anything else? If so, send me an e-mail, or post some Comments below.
TWINS MINOR LEAGUE NOTES
Wednesday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Joe Benson, GCL Twins
Wednesday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Dan Leatherman, GCL Twins
Thursday SethSpeaks Player of the Day - Danny Matienzo, New Britain Rockcats
Thursday SethSpeaks Pitcher of the Day - Peter Munro, Rochester Red Wings
Rotoworld posted its midseason Top 150 Prospect report, and just four Twins prospects made the rankings. Matt Garza was obviously the #1 Twins prospect, and he came in at #24. In his summary paragraph, it says that the Twins have been aggressive with him and he could see time in the big leagues by August, but he would likely have to wait until 2007 for his debut. Kevin Slowey was at #72. His description basically said that despite amazing walk and strikeout numbers in his first pro season, he wasn't taken seriously because he hardly hits 90. The fact that he is doing even better this year, at higher levels of competition has made people notice, but he still needs to work on a changeup. Glen Perkins ranked at #112, and Matt Moses was #123. Not a great showing for the Twins organization especially when the latter two are very fringe guys at this time, ranked even that high probably because of their draft status as former #1 picks.
The Baseball Analysts' Bryan Smith is presenting his Top 75 Prospects as well. Three Twins crack his list. Matt Garza ranks #30, and Mike Radcliff is called 'the game's best scouting director.' Kevin Slowey is ranked #54, and Glen Perkins is #70.
I thought a Star-Tribune article titled Tapped Out? Things Aren't So Bountiful on the Farm, was really unnecessary and unfortunate. It says that since so many players from Rochester are already up in the major leagues, there isn't much in the minor league system that can help them right now. It goes on to like three non-prospects (Rondell White, Jason Tyner and Chris Heintz) with Boof Bonser who has already shown that he could be a capable replacement level pitcher, and Matt Garza who is the top prospect in the system but likely won't be rushed (although I think he would do alright). With Francisco Liriano, Willie Eyre, Pat Neshek, Scott Baker, Jason Bartlett, Jason Kubel and Terry Tiffee all on the big league roster with less than one year of big league experience, I think that the Twins farm system has more than done its job! Add in guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau who have less than three years of big league time under there belts and the Twins farm system should be commended. Are there more prospects that are ready right now to contribute? Probably not. But do the Twins need any more to contribute right now? Probably not.
Brad Weiss posts his Top 15 Twins Short-Season minor leaguers right now. I really like the future of Loek Van Mil. Joe Benson has been incredible, and Chris Parmalee might be the player with the biggest upside. And those three all play for the GCL Twins. Check out his list for the top players there and in Elizabethton.
I posted this yesterday and wanted to have
it again in case anyone missed it:
By the way, our good friend Roger Dehring is now writing for scout.com too. His first article for them was his Top 50 Twins Pitching Prospects. Remember the formula he used last fall to mathematically tell us the teams top pitchers? Well, he tweaked the formula just a little, and he ranks the pitching performances this year. I dont think that the Top 3 spots will surprise anyone, but the rest of the report is where it gets really interesting and informative. Please take a few minutes to check out his article and again, head over to the scout.com forum to discuss it and many other Twins topics.
TRANSACTION SECTION - John Thomas was release from the organization, specifically from New Britain. Jay Sawatski returned to New Britain. Armando Gabino was promoted from Elizabethton to Beloit. Kyle Waldrop was promoted from Beloit to Ft. Myers. Brian Duensing was promoted from Ft. Myers to New Britain. Matt Garza was promoted from New Britain to Rochester. Uffdah... but that's not it! Alexi Casilla was promoted (finally) from Ft. Myers to New Britain while JR Taylor moves back down to Ft. Myers. Kyle Geiger was promoted from Ft. Myers to New Britain, and Caleb Moore was moved from Beloit to Ft. Myers. Am I missing any moves?
If you have any thoughts on the Twins system, please e-mail me.
Wednesday - Red Wings AAA All-Star game. Josh Rabe was 0-3 and started in left field for the International League, who won 6-0. Jason Tyner played the last few innings in CF and was 0-2.
Thursday - Game 1 - Red Wings 11, Ottawa 2 It was a good game all around for the Red Wings. Mike Smith won his seventh game. He went all seven innings and gave up two runs (1 earned) on six hits and two walks. He struck out eight. Garrett Jones and Shawn Wooten were each 2-4 with two doubles and two RBI. Jones now has 21 walks, and Wooten has 13. Rondell White and Alex Romero were also 2-4. Chris Heintz was 2-5 and hit his second homer. Glenn Williams hit his third homer.
Thursday - Game 2 - Red Wings 3, Ottawa 2 Peter Munro started and had a no-hitter through five innings. He had a shutout through six innings. In the seventh, he walked the first batter and the second batter reached on an error. Ricky Barrett came in and walked the guy he faced. Bobby Korecky came in and got a strikeout for the first out. The next batter grounded to 3B. An out was recorded at 2B, but the relay throw was thrown away, and the score was 3-2. Fortunately, Korecky got the final out to record his second save and preserve the sixth win for Munro. The offense managed just six hits. Chris Heintz and Tommy Watkins each had a double. Kevin West hit a two run homer.
NEW BRITAIN NEWS
Wednesday - Rockcats 8, Bowie 7 AA All-Star game was played and the North team lost to the South 5-3. Denard Span was the North's leadoff hitter and CF. He went 1-3 with two doubles. Felix Molina played the entire game at SS. He batted 8th and went 1-4 with a stolen base. Matt Garza pitched the third inning. He gave up a hit and a walk, but no runs in his inning. Glen Perkins pitched the 7th inning and was perfect, with two strikeouts.
Thursday - Rockcats 6, New Hampshire 3 Justin Olson made another start and really did well. He gave up three runs on six hits in 6.2 innings. He walked three and struck out eight. Tristan Crawford got four straight hitters out, three on strikeouts. Levale Speigner picked up his seventh save with a perfect ninth, including two strikeouts. Danny Matienzo led the offense. He was 2-4 with his 14th double, 11th homer and three RBI. Garrett Guzman was 2-4 with his fourth double. Trent Oeltjen was 1-2 with two walks, his 11th double and two stolen bases.
FT MYERS MEMOS
Wednesday - Miracle 4, Tampa 8 - It was a rough start for lefty Brian Duensing. In just 1.1 innings, he gave up seven runs on six hits and three walks. Ryan Callahan went the next 3.2 innings and gave up only an unearned run on five hits and a walk. Tim Lahey threw three shutout innings before Chris Schutt added another. Alexi Casilla continues his tear. He went 3-4 with a walk out of the leadoff spot. Brandon Roberts was 2-4 hitting second. That is a lot of great speed out of the top two spots in the lineup, but amazingly, despite getting on base six times, the two combined for no stolen bases.
Thursday - Miracle 4, Tampa 2 - Brandon Roberts had two of the four Miracle hits, and he stole his 31st base. The Miracle did work seven walks. Kyle Aselton made his second start since returning from an arm injury. In his first start, he went two innings. On this night, he went three innings. He did not allow a run. He gave up two hits, two walks and he struck out two. Jose Mijares went the next two innings without allowing a run to record his first win of the year. He walked three, but he struck out four. Colby Miller gave up a run in his two innings. JP Martinez went 1.2 innings. He gave up a run on a hit and two walks. He struck out three, but Danny Powers had to come in for the final out. He got it and recorded his third save.
Wednesday - Snappers 5, Quad Cities 8 Kyle Waldrop was the recipient of some pretty shoddy defense on this night. The righty went 5.2 innings and gave up six runs (5 earned) on eight hits and an uncharacteristic four walks (to go with two Wild Pitches). He struck out none. Jose Cordero went 1.1 innings and gave up two more runs. Danny Vais did have a scoreless inning. The Snappers scored their five runs on just five hits... and eight walks. Whit Robbins was 1-3 with two walks. Erik Lis hit his 10th home run, a solo shot in the 9th.
Thursday - Snappers 2, Quad Cities 1 Adam Hawes has really been pitching well of late. Here, he moved to 4-3 with a good outing. In six innings, he gave up one run despite giving up seven hits and three walks. David Shinskie got his fourth save as he worked three shutout innings. He gave up a hit and a walk. Paul Kelly led the offense by going 3-4 with one of the RBI. Toby Gardenhire hit his third double and drove in the other run. Eli Tintor was 2-4 with his third stolen base.
Wednesday - E-Town Twins 2, Kingsport 9 Brian Kirwan did not have a good start. In three innings (plus six batters he didn't get out in the fourth), he gave up seven runs on four hits and five walks. He struck out three. Brandon McConnell came in and allowed some inherited runs and one of his own to score in that fourth frame when Kingsport scored seven. He went a total of four innings and gave up a run on three hits and a walk. Walter Patton gave up two hits and walked two without recording an out yet just one run scored as Matt Williams got three outs including two strikeouts. Danny Hernandez also threw a shutout inning. JW Wilson was 3-3 with his third home run. Jeff Christy went 2-4 with his first homer.
Thursday - E-Town Twins 6, Kingsport 5 The E-Town Twins had just four hits, but added five walks, on their way to this win. Jose Castillo started and gave up a run in five innings. He gave up just one hit, but walked four, and he struck out three. Matt Fox gave up four runs on six hits and a walk in his three innings. He struck out five and because the team came back to win, he got his first win. Danny Hernandez struck out one in a perfect inning.
GCL TWINS REPORT
Wednesday - GCL Twins 7, GCL Reds 5 (10) Joe Benson has been great so far to start his career. The Twins 2nd round pick in June out of high school is playing CF after catching most of his high school career. But it is with the bat that he is doing well. In this game, he went 4-5 with two home runs. The second one was a game winner in the 10th inning. He had five RBI in the game. He now has three home runs and four stolen bases on the year. Curtis Leavitt made the start. In five innings, he gave up five runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out four. Dan Leatherman went four shutout innings. He gave up two hits and a walk, and he struck out three. Brad Tippett struck out two in a scoreless inning and got the win to improve to 2-1.
Thursday - Game 1 - GCL Twins 3, GCL Pirates 0 Joe Benson continues to impress. In this game, he was 2-3. Chris Parmalee had an RBI double. Tyler Robertson started and threw four shutout innings. He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out four. Justin Staatz went to 2-0 as he threw 2.1 hitless innings. He walked three and struck out four. Brad Tippett got the final two outs for his sixth save.
Thursday - Game 2 - GCL Twins 6, GCL Pirates 0 David Bromberg threw well on his way to a complete game shutout. He gave up just three hits. He walked two and struck out two to improve to 1-1. Mark Dolenc went 2-3 with his second double and three RBI. Chris Parmalee was 2-2 with a walk, his third double and an RBI. Joe Benson had a double.
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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