Hot Rods Hopeful: D.J. Slaton

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The Major League Baseball First-Year Player draft has a name almost as long as the draft itself. 40 rounds, 1,200 players, and that is among the hundreds of thousands that showcase their talent in front of scouts every year. They say if you’re good they’ll find you, and the Tampa Bay Rays have a great track record of doing just that. Today’s Hot Rods Hopeful might be another late-round gem that seems to generate at least one heartwarming story every year. D.J. Slaton was the 1,118th overall pick in last year’s draft, but could find himself in the Bowling Green Hot Rod rotation come spring.

Before we look into Slaton’s breakout debut season of last year, let’s look at his collegiate career at San Jose State University. He did not see much of the field in his 2011 campaign, his first with SJSU. He appeared nine times for the Spartans, and allowed 11 runs in just over 13 innings pitched. The Salinas, California native spent his second season on campus between the bullpen and rotation. He made six starts, but also came out of the ‘pen on seven occasions. He compiled a 1-5 record, with a 5.74 earned run average in 31.1 innings tossed.

His high walk total was a concern going into 2013, but he drew the attention of the Rays with his performance.He was a mainstay in the SJSU rotation his final year in college, and he posted a respectable 4.04 ERA in a career-high 91.1 innings. He also walked just 37, dramatically improving his control. His record of 4-8, and his 6’1″ frame allowed Slaton to slip in the draft. The Rays gobbled him up in the 37th round with that 1,118th overall selection.

Slaton carried a large collegiate workload to Princeton where he was assigned, but that didn’t stop him from having a breakout debut. He went on to make 12 starts for the P-Rays, and the result was a sparkling 2.66 ERA in 61 innings. He teamed up with Jacob Faria to compose one of the Appalachian League’s best pitching rotations. He finished with a 4-3 record, and walked just 14 batters as opposed to 42 strikeouts. His earned run average ranked sixth in the Appy League, and he was in the top ten in innings pitched. 

With a fastball topping out at 93, Slaton is another prototypical Rays pitcher that is being molded. He possesses great control of that fastball, and also features a slider, curveball, and changeup. The Tampa Bay farm system has been a factory, especially in terms of pitching, and Slaton hopes to be the latest product of that fine-tuned machine.

On-Deck:

Next time on Hot Rods Hopeful, we’ll take a look at a potential home run hitter at BGBP, Hunter Lockwood. Hot Rods general manager Adam Nuse should recognize Lockwood, who spent his freshman season at the University of Oklahoma. Have a question for us, or just want to keep tabs on the Hot Rods? Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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