Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kevin Slowey Likely to Start for Twins on Friday

The Rochester Red Wings have withheld the identity of Tuesday's starting pitcher in a Triple A matchup against Richmond, adding to speculation that prospect Kevin Slowey will miss his turn so that he can be called to Minneapolis to replace struggling veteran Ramon Ortiz on Friday.

Ortiz was bombed again Saturday, surrendering six runs on 10 hits over six innings in a 9-8 loss to Toronto, giving him an ERA of nearly 11.00 over his last five starts. The outing was largely seen as his one last chance before he is likely released or sent to the bullpen.

The 23-year-old Slowey, meanwhile, has been nothing short of spectacular, leading the International League with a 6-2 record and 1.54 ERA in nine starts, three of which were complete games. Slowey has struck out nearly a batter per inning. while demonstrating supurb control with a 0.81 whip. He has been likened to former Twins ace Brad Radke, with a highly accurate, low-90s fastball with lots of action plus dependable off-speed pitches.

The Twins next rotation opening had initially been expected to go to Slowey's rival, fellow 23-year-old Matt Garza, who compiled a 3-6 record with a 5.76 ERA in a late callup last year. But despite Garza's 1.35 ERA during spring training, he allowed what the staff regarded as too many baserunners.

Garza -- the Twins 2005 No. 1 pick -- has been criticized as a one-pitch wonder, heavily relying on his 97-mph fastball without being able to throw off-speed pitches for strikes. Garza has pitched well at Rochester, striking out a batter per inning with a 3.49 ERA and 2-4 record. But he has handed out 18 free passes in 49 innings while chaffing under directives to develop his changeup.