One More Vote of Confidence in Anthony Slama

ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11: U.S. Futures All-Star Anthony Slama #24 of the Minnesota Twins throws a pitch during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

As a 22-year old from Orange, California, when the Twins drafted Anthony Slama back in 2006 it wouldn't have been a surprise to see him drop by the wayside before he turned 25. He was a 39th round draft pick from the University of San Diego. Combining his last two years in college, Slama's numbers weren't that impressive.

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

90.0

4.48

1.62

10.8

3.8

7.7

Not inspiring collegiate totals by any means. But that's why he was a 36th round pick.

All Slama has done since then has post double-digit strikeout rates at every single stop upon his path through the minors. His strikeouts per nine has never been lower than 10.2. In 286 minor league innings, he's struck out 387 minor league hitters.

His cup of coffee in 2010 was brief. When the team needed a reliever in fact, they went to Alex Burnett instead of Slama. Then in 2011 it seemed like the circumstances were ripe for him to prove himself as the team was suffering catostrophic health failures. Of course, Slama then was bitten by the injury bug as well. He chose not to have Tommy John surgery. I concluded that...

If it really is nothing more than a flexor pronator muscle strain, rest will probably do the trick for him. He won't be able to pitch for the remainder of 2011, but he'd be ready to go by spring training next February.

It seems as though that's the case. Through his Twitter account, Slama has said on a few occasions that his arm feels good and that he's ready to go. But his removal from the 40-man roster last fall, and the subsequent lack of an invitation to spring training, mean that the Twins expect him to work back into their graces before he sees another opportunity. Which is fair enough.

But if Slama ends up not just proving himself healthy, but shows that he's still able to strike out hitters with alarming frequency, then hopefully the Twins recognize him for the dark horse he's always been. He is unequivocally the best strikeout pitcher the team doesn't have on the 40-man roster, and there is nothing left for him to prove in the minor leagues.

Slama turned 28 in January. This will be his fourth season spending time in triple-A. Hopefully it's only a matter of (yet) a little more time before he gets his shot.

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