Slegers Gains Control For Twins
MINNEAPOLIS–A radar gun isn’t sufficient to judge the speed of Double-A Chattanooga righthander Aaron Slegers’ fastball, Mike Radcliff believes. For that, a scout probably needs a protractor.
"I couldn’t sit here and explain all the math behind it, the angles and everything,” the farm director said. "But I know this: The higher a pitch is coming from, the faster it appears to a batter.”
That’s one factor in Sleger’s steady march toward the big leagues, the Twins believe, because the 23-year-old is 6-foot-10 with the broad wingspan and intimidating frame of a college-basketball center. And also: His fastball normally tops out around 92 mph.
"You look at the gun and you think he can’t blow it by many guys,” Radcliff said, "but he’s got a power-pitcher motion, and guys who are that big and tall—releasing from a steeper angle, throwing downhill—hitters just aren’t used to it. It makes his fastball look a little faster when you face him.”
Even better: it’s normally a strike, too. The 2013 fifth-round pick from Indiana always had plus control for a pitcher of any size. He has walked just 2.1 batters per nine innings through 411 pro innings, though his rate has jumped to 3.0 per nine at Double-A.
Radcliff believes that’s temporary—an adjustment to better hitters.
"A lot of taller pitchers constantly battle with repeating their mechanics,” Radcliff said, "(but) he’s been able to put the ball in the strike zone consistently.”
Slegers, the Big Ten Conference pitcher of the year in 2013, is growing more comfortable by the day in Double-A. Through 17 starts, he went 8-4, 3.39 with 76 strikeouts and 35 walks in 104 innings.
Slegers’ fastball has sink to it, Radcliff said, but he’s using a slider as a strikeout pitch, while working in an occasional changeup, too.
• The Twins optioned 29-year-old Korean slugger Byung Ho Park to Triple-A Rochester after he endured a 2-for-38 slump with 20 strikeouts over the last two weeks of June. The Twins signed him to a four-year, $12 million deal (on top of nearly $13 million negotiating fee) last November.
Taking Things Personally Paid Off For Aaron Slegers
Going unselected in the Rule 5 draft motivated Aaron Slegers to improve.
• The Twins’ first three signings during the international period were all Dominican shortstops. Minnesota expected to sign no players for more than the $495,000 bonus paid to 16-year-old Wander Valdez.