Trusting The Slider Pays Off For Twins' Summers

MINNEAPOLIS It didn't seem like much of a turning point at the time.

Matt Summers was pitching for low Class Class A Beloit against Cedar Rapids in a routine Midwest League game on May 23 when he allowed a fourth-inning home run to right fielder Andy Workman. Then the next batter, first baseman Gary Mitchell pummeled another Summers pitch out of Pohlman Field.

And perhaps the advice of Snappers pitching coach Gary Lucas, a former big leaguer, began to make sense.

"We were trying to convince him that his slider is a put-away pitch, that he has to be patient with it," Lucas said. "But after throwing two good sliders to (Workman), he hung a third and it got hit out.

"So like a lot of young pitchers, Matt immediately wants to go back to nothing but fastballs and blow the next guy away. But (Mitchell) was waiting for that."

From that point on, the former UC Irvine ace settled down, posting a 2.96 ERA in his next nine starts to earn a promotion to high Class A Fort Myers. And while it took a while to get comfortable at the new level—the 2011 fourth-round pick had a 4.81 in eight starts for the Miracle—the Twins feel as though Summers' transition to the starting rotation, after a season in the bullpen, has been a success.

"He's been learning how to slow the ball down, change speeds, develop a third pitch," Lucas said. "As a reliever, he used to come in just with a two-pitch mix and try to throw the ball by everyone."

The result, Lucas believes, is a 23-year-old pitcher with a bigger repertoire, a 91-mph fastball and a bright future.

"He had a lot of transitions to make," Lucas said. "But he's got all the raw materials to go a long way."


• Ten days after going home to prepare for the Arizona Fall League, Double-A New Britain catcher Chris Herrmann was suddenly summoned to Minnesota to serve as the Twins' third catcher while Joe Mauer healed up from back spasms. Herrmann, a sixth-round pick in 2009, made his major league debut as a defensive replacement on Sept. 16, grounding out in his only at-bat.

• The Twins signed a new player-development contract with low Class A Cedar Rapids, moving in the Midwest League after an eight-year relationship with Beloit.