La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Minor details: Slama reflects on the first half of a dominant season

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Twins Farm System, Twins prospects Updated: July 15, 2010 - 4:58 PM

Anthony Slama was a late addition to the All-Star Futures Game that was played on Sunday. He was surprised when he got the call, then thrilled beyond belief.

Slama was born in Orange, Calif, and went to high school in the area. Many of his friends and family hadn't seen him pitch since school, some had never seen him pitch. So he had a lot of supporters in the crowd at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, where he watched games as a youth.

``I had never been back home during the middle of a season.'' he said.

He pitched an inning on Sunday, giving up three hits (yes he was nervous) but getting a double play along the way to escape damage. He then pitched a scoreless inning on Wednesday in the Triple-A All-Star Game.

The appointments are well-deserved because Slama is in the middle of a strong season at Class AAA Rochester. He's 0-1 with a 1.28 ERA and 16 saves. In 49.1 innings, he's walked 24 (not that good) while striking out 60 (good) and allowing just 22 hits (sick). Right-handed hitters are batting .096 against him,

He doesn't throw an overpowering fastball. His delivery is deceptive and he uses three pitches.

``My repertoire is just attacking the zone, staying down in the zone and getting ahead with my fastball, which opens up things for the slider,'' said Slama, whose fastball can reach the low 90's. ``Really just a two-pitch mix with the change up mixed in here and there to lefties.''

Slama is 26 years old and has had to prove that his funk would be effective at each level. So far, so good, as Slama has a 1.74 ERA in his minor leagues with 98 walks and 331 strikeouts in 233 innings.

The Twins want him to keep the walks down, which Slama is trying to do. But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has mentioned Slama recently when talking about prospects who could be called up. Slama currently is not on the 40-man roster but indications are that the Twins might have to find room for him soon as they look at all options to get back in the AL Central driver's seat.

``Whenever that next step comes I'll be jut as eager to face big league guys and compete at the highest level,'' Slama said..

SYSTEM CHECK

Top prospect Aaron Hicks will be in the Twin Cities this week to have a sore right wrist checked out. He injured it diving for a ball but it isn't expected to be serious and he'll return to Class A Beloit.

Class AA New Britain righthander Carlos Gutierrez has been moved to the bullpen, which is part of the plan to watch his innings. Still, it will be interesting to see what his numbers are as a reliever because that might end up his as his role as a major leaguer. 

Tough news for New Britain lefty Spencer Steedley. He has a bone spur in his elbow that needs to be removed - and he might need Tommy John surgery. They will examine the ligament while removing the spur. If he needs Tommy John surgery he might not pitch until 2012. He was due in the Twin Cities this week for the bone spur removal.

Luke Hughes also was due in the Twin Cities this week to be checked for a possible sports hernia. He's played 22 games at Rochester and two in the majors this season.

International update: The Twins have signed a shortstop from Panama named Carlos Martinez and are still in the hunt for outfielder Vicmal de la Cruz of the Dominican Republic.

One international player to keep an eye on is barrel-chested, switch-hitting Venezuelan outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. Arcia is batting .400 with 7 homers and 22 RBI in 21 games at E-Town. The Twins are excited about his bat.

 

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