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Friday, June 25, 2010

Scouting Report, RHP Kevin Slowey

The 26-year old Slowey was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 draft out of Winthrop University by the Twins (they drafted Matt Garza in the 1st round) and he quickly climbed up the ladder due to his exceptional ability to walk no one and strike people out. He made his debut in 2007, allowed 13 home runs in seven starts, and was sent back down to AAA. He relies on that pinpoint control and command because he doesn't have overwhelming stuff.  He's 33-19 for his career, with a 4.43 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. He's an extreme fly-ball pitcher (lowest ground-ball rate in the majors at points this year), and lefties handle him well (.293/.340/.503). Slowey had major wrist surgery/reconstruction on August 4, 2009 (he had two screws put in), and there was some early reports that he lost some range of motion and fear that it would effect his pinpoint control, but as you will see below, it hasn't. Slowey was 10-3 in 2009 before his season ended with the above injury. He has not faced the Mets in his career.

Slowey has a clean, repeatable, free and easy delivery, throwing from a 3/4 arm slot. He has an excellent feel for pitching and his command and control are among the best in the majors. He throws a 88-91 mph fastball, both two and four-seam (two seam added this year), and it has some late movement. He's not afraid to throw it up in the zone when ahead in the count. He also throws a tight, but slow curve (75 mph), a quick-biting slider (86 mph), and a change-up (84 mph). So as you can see, he doesn't have a big differential in velocity between his fastball, change and slider (all within 6 mph). The only pitch which is markedly different is the slow curve. His fastball has been his only above average pitch in the past four years. As noted earlier, he doesn't walk many (1.5 W/9 for his career), and strikes out 6.9/9, which is a good combination. He throws 1st pitch strikes often (66%) and throws strikes 55% of the time (league average is 47%).

So far this year, Slowey is 7-4 in 14 starts (only 76 innings), with a 4.58 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. His walk rate has risen slightly to 2 W/9, but his K rate also declined to 6.7 K/9. As mentioned above, he's an extreme fly-ball pitcher, and his ground-ball rate is the lowest in the majors and of his career (28%). Due to the high fly-ball rate, he is susceptible to the long ball, and he's allowed 12 home runs thus far in 76 innings, including four in the last two games. We know he throws strikes and has great control, but what is a sign of impending trouble for him is that hitters are not swinging and missing at his pitches; his swinging strike rate is 5.8%, the lowest of his career and way below league average (8.3%). He's having trouble going deep into games this year (only four of 14 starts are 6+ innings), and has only reached the 100 pitch mark five times (highest 104). Over his last 10 starts (53 innings), he's only walked eight hitters. In his last start he got bombed at CBP by the Phillies, lasting only five outs, allowed seven hits, including two home runs, and seven earned runs.

In summary: He's a #3/4 starter at his best, which is not a slight on him; he just has a very small margin of error.  The Mets should add their lefty-hitters to the line-up (C Carter, A Cora), and expect to have a lot of fly ball outs unless the wind is blowing out, which would signal a quick call to the bullpen for the Twins.

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