New Chattanooga Lookouts starting pitcher Aaron Slegers towers above his teammates at 6-foot-10, much like new Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson once did in a career that included two stints with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Slegers grew up in Arizona, but height and locale are about the only things he and Johnson have in common.
"In terms of on the field, I don't think there are too many similarities," Slegers said. "He threw left-handed and in the triple digits, and I'm more low 90s and right-handed with a sinker ball. So being tall is kind of where the similarities stop.
"He was definitely my idol growing up. My first memories of reading the newspaper were to see if Randy Johnson was pitching that day."
A 22-year-old from the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale, Slegers is 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA through his first three Double-A starts. He is scheduled to start this week against the Tennessee Smokies at AT&T Field, though the rotation may have tweaked following Sunday's washout.
The Lookouts will make up the postponed game by playing two seven-inning games today. The doubleheader begins at 5:15 p.m.
Slegers was promoted earlier this month from high Single-A Fort Myers of the Florida State League, where he went 8-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 19 starts.
"Obviously he's got the height and the angle, but the one thing that really stands out to me is how he competes," Lookouts manager Doug Mientkiewicz said. "He does his work and does everything the way you want it to be done. When you start to come across adversity, that's when you really see the true makeup of a kid, but as of right now, everything is fine.
"His fastball command is there, and his slider and changeup are getting better and better. At the end of the day, he's not afraid, and that's a good thing."
Being asked if he's a basketball player is a daily occurrence for Slegers, who played both sports for Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale. He picked baseball as a sophomore, when he was 6-2, but then grew 8 inches from the winter of his junior year to the fall of his senior year.
"The coaches were begging me to come back out for basketball, but I had already made up my mind," he said.
Johnson has two daughters who have attended Notre Dame Preparatory, and he once came to speak to Slegers and his teammates.
After high school, Slegers ventured off to Indiana University. As a junior in 2013, he went 9-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 13 starts for the Hoosiers and was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the fifth round that June.
Slegers was called up to Fort Myers late last season and played a part in the team's FSL title, and he is hoping for a repeat scenario with the Lookouts as he adjusts to the Double-A level. Chattanooga secured a spot in next month's Southern League playoffs by winning the North Division's first-half title.
"I'm just trying to stick to my game plan as much as possible," he said. "The coaches here are telling me to stick to my approach and to not change what I've been doing. That's the worst thing you can do — trying to be someone you're not — so I just try to stick to my game plan of attacking hitters and throwing strike one.
"I like to get ahead early with fastballs and then throw my breaking stuff over for strikes. Usually that is a recipe for success."
Contact David Paschall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6524.