The big news in the Twins farm system on Thursday, however, involves a significant transaction. The Twins signed RHP Cody Eppley. Not a major signing, though he did pitch in 59 games out of the Yankees bullpen a year ago.
The bigger news, for Twins fans of recent years, is that Anthony Slama has finally been freed. The Twins released the 29-year-old right-hander who has been a strikeout machine since signing with the team after his 2007 college season.
Slama has been a favorite of those of us who follow the minor leagues and believe in the value of things like ‘ability to miss bats’ and dominance at all levels equating to big league opportunity. Here is what I wrote in the 2013 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook about Slama:
The numbers are undeniable. Since signing with the Twins as a draft-and-follow early in 2007, Slama has dominated at every minor league level. In Low A, he posted a 1.48 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP with a 14.4 K/9. In High-A, he posted a 1.01 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and a 13.9 K/9. In AA, he had a 2.48 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP and a 12.8 K/9 rate. He has now been in AAA since late in the 2009 season, and in 123 AAA games, he has posted a 2.27 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and still 11.1 K/9. In 2012, he recorded the 100th save of his minor league career, so he has pitched primarily in late-inning, game-on-the-line situations throughout his career.
On the other side, however, most scouts question his ability to be successful in the big leagues. Some say that he has a deceptive motion that big league hitters will quickly adjust to. He may not have a good out-pitch against left-handed batters. Although his minor league stats are clearly better against right-handed, they are still very good versus lefties as well. He walks too many. In the upper levels of the Twins minor league system, he has averaged about one walk every other inning, which is too much and doesn’t bode well upon moving up. Despite the crazy strikeout numbers, he does not have a dominant fastball. At his peak, Slama’s velocity topped out at about 92 mph. In 2012, Slama rarely reached 89 mph with his fastball.
Slama has pitched seven innings in seven big league games (5 in 2010, 2 in 2011). To be fair, Slama was pitching very well through the season’s first two months in 2012. In a game against Norfolk, he was hit in the leg by a comebacker off the bat of former MVP Miguel Tejada. A week after the game, the swelling came down and an x-ray showed a broken fibula which kept him out of action for nearly two months. Without that injury, maybe Slama would have had an extended tryout with the Twins.
Slama is a very hard worker who has put in the time, and he has experienced the success at every level of the farm system to warrant an extended opportunity. If not, then the Twins’ “work hard and succeed and we build from within” philosophy goes out the window.
Slama never really got that opportunity. When he was released on Thursday, he was 0-4 with a 13.50 ERA and a 2.25 WHIP in 14 games. In 13.1 innings, he gave up 16 hits, walked 14 and struck out just nine. At this point, the release is completely understandable; I’m hoping that he can be healthy, find a good team and get an opportunity to return to the big leagues.
With that, check out what happened in the Twins minor league system on Thursday:
Rochester Red Wings 8, Gwinnett Braves 2
Andrew Albers was terrific again. In this game, the Canadian lefty gave up two runs on four hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out six. He improved to 5-2 with a 3.01 ERA. Luis Perdomo came on and gave up one hit over two scoreless innings. He struck out two.
Chris Colabello led the offense. He went 2-3 with a walk and his 20th double. He drove in three runs. Antoan Richardson went 2-4 with a walk, his third triple, three RBI and his tenth stolen base. Doug Bernier was 2-4 with his third home run.
New Britain Rock Cats, Altoona Curve
Postponed by rain
Ft. Myers Miracle 1, Daytona 5
Tyler Duffey was on the mound for his second Miracle start. In 4.2 innings, he gave up three runs on six hits. He walked one and struck out four. Nelvin Fuentes gave up two runs on three hits over the next 2.1 innings. Jose Gonzalez pitched a scoreless inning.
The Miracle had just six hits. Aderlin Mejia went 2-3 with two walks. Mike Kvasnicka was 1-2 with two walks.
Cedar Rapids Kernels 8, Quad Cities River Bandits 9
The Kernels clinched a playoff spot on Wednesday night, but they still have a lot to play for before the Midwest League All-Star game. They are in a battle with the Beloit Snappers for the first-half division title. Coming into play on Thursday, the Kernels had a half-game lead. The Snappers split a double header on Thursday, so would the Kernels' lead increase or decrease?
Things started out well. Byron Buxton led off the game with his 8th home run of the year. However, through seven innings, the Kernels were down by a score of 4-1.
In the top of the 8th frame, the Kernels rallied to score seven runs and take an 8-4 lead. They maintained that lead to the bottom of the 9th.
Christian Powell made his second start with the Kernels. He gave up one run in five innings despite giving up five hits and walking five. He struck out four. Alex Muren came in and gave up three runs on four hits and a walk in just 1.1 innings. Tyler Jones got out of the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth frame.
That brings us to the bottom of the ninth. Jones got the first two outs, but he walked two as well. He then got a ground ball that should have ended the game, but an error by shortstop Jorge Polanco kept things alive. Jones left the game with the Kernels up 8-7 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. There were runners on first and second, and Josue Montanez came in to replace Jones. The first batter he faced hit a two-run double that ended the game.
So, with three games remaining in the first half, the Kernels and the Snappers are tied. The Kernels will play three games against Peoria while the Snappers will play three against Clinton.
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