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  • Twins Minor League Report (6/13): Slama Freed

    The Cedar Rapids Kernels and Beloit Snappers are both going to the playoffs in the Midwest League. Which one will go as first-half champ will be soon determined.

    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:
    If ever there was a case of The Numbers versus The Scouting Reports, it might be Anthony Slama. It might even be a case where neither side is wrong.

    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

    Box Score

    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

    Box Score

    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

    Box Score

    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.


    Please feel free to comment or ask questions below.
    This article was originally published in blog: Twins Minor League Report (6/13): Slama Freed started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      What is Albers throwing that makes him so effective?
      His K/9 is pretty good at 7.9
      His BB/9 is really good at 2.3
      His FIP is pretty good at 3.3
      His ERA is good at a 3.00
      His 2012 are reasonable similar so its hard to say its a total fluke.

      Do the Twins have a good pitcher down there? Just because of his lack of name recognition its easy to dismiss him as a "back of the rotation / AAAA filer" type of guy.

      But looking into his stats, I'm not so sure.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Albers success is intriguing, I agree.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      I wasn't really a vocal "Free Slama" campaigner, but in hindsight I should've. Not saying the scouts are wrong and he was going to thrive, but anyone with his numbers+service time deserved an extended shot. If for no other reason than to collect a big league paycheck for a month or two.

      I'm an out of state Twins fan who chooses to follow the Twins because I happen to like their organizational values, but as you stated, in this case, hard work didn't seem to pay off.

      Easy to get excited about sure-fire talents, but I am just as interested in the human side of the game. At 29, what's next for Slama? Does he have a family to support? Does he have regular world job skills? Anyhow, best of luck to him. Glory days.

      Buxton is so good that a bad day at the office is a one for fiver that happens to be a home run.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Albers success is intriguing, I agree.
      A Albers - International League man of mystery...


      Question. How many guys have made the major leagues from the baseball hotbed that is Saskatchewan?
      And who was the last one and when?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Han Joelo View Post
      I wasn't really a vocal "Free Slama" campaigner, but in hindsight I should've. Not saying the scouts are wrong and he was going to thrive, but anyone with his numbers+service time deserved an extended shot. If for no other reason than to collect a big league paycheck for a month or two.

      I'm an out of state Twins fan who chooses to follow the Twins because I happen to like their organizational values, but as you stated, in this case, hard work didn't seem to pay off.

      Easy to get excited about sure-fire talents, but I am just as interested in the human side of the game. At 29, what's next for Slama? Does he have a family to support? Does he have regular world job skills? Anyhow, best of luck to him. Glory days.

      Buxton is so good that a bad day at the office is a one for fiver that happens to be a home run.
      Great post. I think that's all most of us wanted, especially since there were guys that just were not that good up here, not playing well. Just give him a longer shot, in place of guys we knew were not good with some certainty.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      I also think Slama had some bad luck. The times it would have been most obvious to call him up (ie last two seasons) he has either been struggling or injured.

      He is a classic can't scout the stat line guy. He didn't throw all that hard, struggled with control, didn't hold runners well.

      That said, and other Slama remarks aside, it would have been nice for him to get more of a reward for his contributions.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Question. How many guys have made the major leagues from the baseball hotbed that is Saskatchewan?
      And who was the last one and when?
      BB-Ref doesn't break it down by province, but just scanning the Canadian player list for major Saskatchewan cities, all I noticed was Reggie Cleveland (who was an "all-star" of sorts ).

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/bio/Canada_born.shtml

      EDIT: Found another list which says Terry Puhl was born there too, and he was active until 1991:

      http://www.baseball-almanac.com/play...php?loc=Canada
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      Quote Originally Posted by drjim View Post
      I also think Slama had some bad luck. The times it would have been most obvious to call him up (ie last two seasons) he has either been struggling or injured.
      2011 was pretty inexcusable. The Twins lost several top setup men prior to that season, and actually went out and traded for Jim Hoey and gave him 26 games, signed Dusty Hughes and gave him 15 games, continued using Alex Burnett and his 5+ ERA instead of finally giving him some AAA time, etc. Slama was healthy until July, but only got two games with the Twins before going back down. Certainly one of those early-season audition spots could have gone to Slama, who was already dominating his third season at AAA while the Twins struggled out of contention.

      2012 wasn't much better. Although the Twins MLB bullpen was improved, the team wasn't overall, and they still went out and got Jeff Gray for the whole season, Matt Maloney, gave 40 appearances to Tyler Robertson, etc. Slama was healthy until June, and came back looking good in August, but never made even one appearance for the big league club.

      I don't think he would have been a star, and other teams and scouts frequently passed on acquiring him, but it was pretty lame that the Twins didn't even give him a look beyond 7 innings over two last-place seasons. Who knows, maybe the scouts were wrong and they could have netted some Neshek-style performances for awhile.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      A Albers - International League man of mystery...


      Question. How many guys have made the major leagues from the baseball hotbed that is Saskatchewan?
      And who was the last one and when?

      Gordie Howe............................no wait, that's not right.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      A Albers - International League man of mystery...


      Question. How many guys have made the major leagues from the baseball hotbed that is Saskatchewan?
      And who was the last one and when?
      Is this the official make fun of Saskatchewan thread? Exciting!


      I hit a homerun in Saskatchewan once, watched it roll away for two weeks..................thanks, I'll be here all week.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      How many of you guys had to Google Saskatchewan to spell it? C'mon, admit it.
    1. Han Joelo's Avatar
      Han Joelo -
      Mike,
      hard to reconcile an organizational approach that seems to reward hard work and loyalty with Slama's career. Maybe it was timing and injuries. I just wish for him that he'd been given a better chance, and even if it didn't work, he'd have made enough for a down payment on a house as he eventually joins the rest of us Schmucks in the "real" world.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
      BB-Ref doesn't break it down by province, but just scanning the Canadian player list for major Saskatchewan cities, all I noticed was Reggie Cleveland (who was an "all-star" of sorts ).

      Players by birthplace : Canada Baseball Stats and Info - Baseball-Reference.com

      EDIT: Found another list which says Terry Puhl was born there too, and he was active until 1991:

      Major League Baseball Players Born in Canada
      Ding, ding, ding. You are correct, sir. Puhl actually made the All Star team once, as well and had a 15 year career as a fairly decent OFer for the Astros. I was shocked to learn that there have been 7 native Sashaktchewanders that have played MLB ball. I think that rates them a step higher than Manitoba and New Brunswick- baseball hotbed, indeed.

      Looking forward to Albers soon representing "Roughriders nation", and putting the province back on the MLB map.
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      It seems that Slama's youth was stolen by the Twins' system, used up and spit out. I will never understand why they didn't just release him 3 or 4 years ago if they were never going to give him a shot.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Quote Originally Posted by Han Joelo View Post
      I wasn't really a vocal "Free Slama" campaigner, but in hindsight I should've. Not saying the scouts are wrong and he was going to thrive, but anyone with his numbers+service time deserved an extended shot. If for no other reason than to collect a big league paycheck for a month or two.

      I'm an out of state Twins fan who chooses to follow the Twins because I happen to like their organizational values, but as you stated, in this case, hard work didn't seem to pay off.

      Easy to get excited about sure-fire talents, but I am just as interested in the human side of the game. At 29, what's next for Slama? Does he have a family to support? Does he have regular world job skills? Anyhow, best of luck to him. Glory days.

      Buxton is so good that a bad day at the office is a one for fiver that happens to be a home run.
      Outstanding post--I could not have said it any better...hopefully some team picks him up and gives Slama the real shot the Twins never gave him.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I'm starting to think that Albers could be the new Slama.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Anthony Slama deserved better. Aaron Hicks had an inconsistent minor-league career, skipped AAA entirely, and struggled mightily upon his arrival in the majors, and yet was never sent down, even after more than two months of poor overall performance (albeit trending in the right direction).

      Slama, on the other hand, was consistently dominant throughout his minors career, stayed at AAA for a long time, and got yanked almost immediately upon struggling when he got to the majors, never to be given another chance, while numerous players with much worse results and track records were.

      The Twins brass kept saying stuff about how Hicks had "earned it.". But the Twins organization seems pretty hypocritical, given this sort of unequal treatment of its organizational players.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      Alex Burnett would be another comparison. Skipped AAA enitirely, and given a long leash in the majors, despite questionable performance.
    1. AM.'s Avatar
      AM. -
      It is somehow poetic that the Twins replace Slama with someone who has spent four seasons in AAA with higher walk rates and worse overall numbers than Slama.
    1. drjim's Avatar
      drjim -
      Quote Originally Posted by AM. View Post
      Anthony Slama deserved better. Aaron Hicks had an inconsistent minor-league career, skipped AAA entirely, and struggled mightily upon his arrival in the majors, and yet was never sent down, even after more than two months of poor overall performance (albeit trending in the right direction).

      Slama, on the other hand, was consistently dominant throughout his minors career, stayed at AAA for a long time, and got yanked almost immediately upon struggling when he got to the majors, never to be given another chance, while numerous players with much worse results and track records were.

      The Twins brass kept saying stuff about how Hicks had "earned it.". But the Twins organization seems pretty hypocritical, given this sort of unequal treatment of its organizational players.
      Hicks and Slama have nothing to do with each other for a variety of reasons.

      I challenge you to do more than read a stat line when analyzing minor league players.
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