The Minnesota Twins have used September's expanded roster to try out a number of pitching prospects, but have not called up minor league reliever Anthony Slama. The right-handed closer was snubbed despite recording a 1.24 ERA at Triple-A Rochester this year.
Slama spent limited time with the Twins in 2010 and 2011, throwing 2.1 scoreless innings for the big league club last season. The knock against Slama within the organization, according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500, concerns his lack of control:
Internally, Twins officials have said behind the scenes for at least two years that Slama's stuff and command are not good enough to get hitters out consistently in the big leagues. The word has always been that Slama puts too many runners on base, and his low-90's fastball lacks the necessary life for late-inning success in the majors.
Mackey also notes that the Twins want to get a better look at other minor league pitchers. However, he writes, Slama provides something that few pitchers in the organization can: Strikeouts.
But here's where Slama's glass ceiling makes little sense -- since Johan Santana was traded five seasons ago, no pitching staff has struck out fewer opposing batters than the Twins'.
The Twins should crave strikeouts more than any team in baseball, and their hunger was apparent by their decision to draft strikeout-oriented pitchers in June.
Slama, whether he's using smoke and mirrors or not, has mowed through opposing hitters at every minor league level. And of the 214 International League pitchers who threw at least 30 innings this season, Slama tallied more strikeouts per nine innings than all of them.
The Twins return to action Friday, hosting the Cleveland Indians at Target Field.