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Red Sox's Justin Slaten Taking Over Camp in Top Form

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By Jerry Walters - - 5 Mins Read
Justin Slaten in an interview
Justin Slaten | YT

Justin Slaten is proving to be a remarkable Rule 5 draft pick. After being selected by the Mets from the Rangers and promptly traded to the Red Sox, the 26-year-old pitcher has performed exceptionally well in Boston's bullpen.

In only eight games, he has allowed just one run and restricted his opponents to six hits and two walks, swiftly becoming the team's best reliever this season.

His only rough spot was during his debut major league game. While playing in Seattle in the season's third game, Slaten gave up a 10th-inning walk-off single to Julio Rodríguez with just his fifth pitch in the big leagues.

Since then, his performance has been nearly perfect—opposing batters have managed only 5 hits in 45 at-bats against his dynamic pitching, with a Mike Trout triple being the sole extra-base hit. He has also struck out 11 batters.

Slaten's pitching strategy has included a mix of 38.5% cutters, 35.2% sweepers, 24.0% four-seamers, and 2.2% curveballs, a combination more varied than he anticipated.

This approach is similar to the one that drew attention during his time with the Rangers’ Double-A and Triple-A teams last year, showcasing his potential in Justin Slaten's stats.

Before a recent game, Justin Slaten shared that his key tactic is to aim all his pitches within the strike zone for optimal results.

Lately, he's been incorporating a higher percentage of breaking balls than before, although his technique in throwing them remains unchanged.

Slaten's ability to precisely target the strike zone has markedly improved. Although striking out batters was never an issue, his control used to be more erratic.

In July of last year, Eric Longenhagen, the lead prospect analyst at Fangraphs, noted that Slaten has made significant progress in his ability to control his pitches during crucial late-inning situations.

Slaten shared how key feedback from the Rangers during his minor league days was crucial.

Last year, he highlighted a turning point with Double-A Frisco, where he gained confidence in his pitches. Realizing their effectiveness, he trusted them fully and aggressively targeted the strike zone, revolutionising his approach.


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Another major shift was his move to the bullpen in 2022 and the development of his cutter, which he began using effectively last season, enhancing his performance further.

Regarding his arsenal, he started experimenting with a curveball soon after turning pro, while his sweeping slider has been a staple for years. He regards the slider as possibly his most effective secondary pitch.

According to Justin Slaten's stats, his fastball, averaging 96 mph and sometimes hitting the 100 mph mark, has been his standout pitch this season.

He’s thrown 43 four-seamers without allowing a hit. Slate commented that it's a classic power fastball, thrown in the mid- to upper 90s, and he relies on its high vertical movement.

Slaten’s confidence has played an immense role in his success. His belief in controlling the game with his strong pitches has advanced his career and secured his spot in the major leagues.

Slaten shared that he was nervous about his first big league game, but his doubts disappeared after he started facing major league hitters successfully. He quickly felt confident that he belonged in the big leagues.