The signings of veterans Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson have created a something of a stir in Minnesota as the Twins seek to fill out a rotation that is wide open beyond the establishment of staff ace Johan Santana. With so much uncertainty, even extreme dark horse rookie Kevin Slowey has a shot at making the team if he can turn enough heads during spring training.
With Francisco Liriano on surgical leave, Carlos Silva and Boof Bonser are penciled in at the No. 2 and No. 3 spots respectively, but they're so shakey that nothing is guaranteed with Matt Garza, Glen Perkins and Scott Baker competing for spots.
Slowey, 22, who has yet to make the 40-man roster, is a former second round pick who owns a 4-2 record with a pristine 1.01 ERA in 14 starts for Class A Fort Myers, and a 4-3 record with a 3.19 ERA in nine starts for AA New Britain.
Somewhat like Radke, Slowey -- 6-foot-3, 195 pounds -- throws a tailing fastball in the high 80s and low 90s, then complements it with an off-speed ball so limp you could break your neck trying to slow down for it. Two years ago Slowey came within an out of a no-hitter at Fort Myers and once struck out 19 batters in a college game. Coaches see him capable of throwing 200 innings in a season.
Ordinarily a pitcher like Slowey would be passed over for a year or two, but in Minnesota need creates opportunity now.