I like him more now that I know he's a Steelers fan
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Kevin Slowey is many things. He's a top Twins pitching prospect. He's arguably the best pitcher currently in the Florida State League. He's the ace of a staff battling for the first-half crown in that league. He's an FSL All-Star as a result and will pitch in the All-Star Game in Lakeland on Saturday.
But perhaps first and foremost, he's a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. That's why, with everything else going on -- the playoff race, the All-Star nod, the outstanding first full season of pro ball -- he will still always remember where he was when he heard the big sports news out of Pittsburgh: Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident.
"I was driving back from the stadium and wasn't very happy about it," Slowey recalled.
That's the only thing upsetting Slowey these days. The Twins' second-round pick a year ago has been absolutely dominant with Fort Myers, posting a league-leading 1.10 ERA in 81 2/3 IP (also tops in the circuit). He's yielded just 48 hits and walked seven while striking out 92, good for second in the league.
That last number is perhaps the most surprising, since Slowey is not a power pitcher. He relies on command, so it attracts attention when he walks anyone at all.
"I've had a little trouble here and there," Slowey joked. "There was one game against Brevard, I walked three guys and I had a couple of people question whether I was injured.
"I don't rear back and throw 95 or 96, so it's important that I don't walk guys, and make them really earn their bases. With the great defense behind me, it's really helped me out this year, to really pound the strike zone and let the guys behind me do the work."
It's a formula that has worked well for Slowey and the Miracle. They led the FSL's West Division for much of the first half, but some untimely losses of late had them one game behind Dunedin with four to play, the final three to come after the All-Star break with Lakeland, the team just a half-game behind Fort Myers.
It's a tight race that won't be decided until after the All-Star festivities. So, for the weekend, Slowey will be teammates with his division rivals, and could have ample opportunity to tilt the race with an ill-timed wild throw taking out a key member of the Blue Jays or Tigers. Slowey, to his credit, wouldn't bite.
"Of course there's temptation, but I think that would be crossing the line, with any sort of physical attack on another player," Slowey laughed. "Lakeland and Dunedin are phenomenal teams. It's going to be a real race. Losing [on Wednesday to Sarasota] put us behind the 8-ball. We're going to have get the job done against Lakeland after the break."
The focus on the race has made it easier for Slowey not to think about when and if he might be promoted. His teammate Matt Garza moved up a month ago and is dominating in Double-A. Fellow FSL All-Stars Sean Gallagher and Jair Jurrjens also recently got the call in their respective organizations. Slowey is confident the Twins will know when the time is right, so he's not waiting by the phone for that call.
"I really haven't been given any indication and that's probably for the best, as much as I'd love to know when and where I'm going," Slowey said, "Especially here in the playoff race, these are the most important games in my season.
"I have a lot of faith in the Twins organization. They've done a great job of drafting and developing great players, and great pitchers especially. I'm sure when my time comes, they'll give me a ring, pat me on the back and send me up. Until then, the most important thing is to win these last games and put it away for the first half."
Before then, he'll get to enjoy being an All-Star. He hasn't been told when he'll get the ball in Saturday's game, but the timing could work out for him to be the West's starter, and face Brevard County's Yovani Gallardo in a match up of the top two arms in the league.
"This seems to be a pitcher's league, so any time you can be recognized as one of the better pitchers in the league, it's a real honor," Slowey said. "I haven't heard anything. I'm sure whether I start or throw the seventh, eighth or ninth, I'll be ready to come back for those last three games. With the talent that's going to be there, whether I throw the first or the ninth, it doesn't matter to me. I'm just looking forward to going and having a good time."
very cool! haha
Here we go Steelers Here we go!