Former Bobcat Slaten enjoying baseball journey | ETVarsity

A week ago, Justin Slaten earned the win from the mound for the Frisco RoughRiders, who defeated the Midland RockHounds 5-3. He threw three innings in which he conceded no runs with just one hit, one walk and six batters.

This is his first year in Frisco after spending last year in North Carolina with the Hickory Crawdads. The 2016 Hallsville High School graduate attended the University of New Mexico before being drafted by the Texas Rangers, the team he grew up with, in the 2019 MLB draft.

“We were in spring training and it was just one of those things,” Slaten said. “I pitched in North Carolina last year and I kind of felt like I was going to Frisco this year, but it’s all very secretive in spring training. They don’t tell you exactly where you’re going. So I just had this mindset, “Well, I still have to work for it,” and when they finally released the rosters, I saw that I was going to Frisco. That made me very happy.”

Being closer to home meant a lot to the former Bobcat.

“It meant the world to me,” he offered. “My parents haven’t seen me field professionally up until this year and it means the world to me to be close to them and have that support and maybe even go home on a day off and reset myself mentally. It was great. It really meant a lot to me.”

Though he hopes to be called up to the majors to play for his favorite team, Slaten is enjoying his baseball journey.

“I’d say minor league baseball is an acquired taste, but it certainly helps when you’re surrounded by a really good group of guys who don’t just look after themselves, obviously everyone wants to make it to the big leagues , but also really care about their teammates and really care about pushing others and making them better, and that clubhouse makes this team one of the best teams I’ve been on,” Slaten explained. “These guys are guys you want to be with every day, who come in every day, go to work, guys who challenge you, question you and help you take the next step with them.”

So far this season, Slaten has started five games, pitched in 12, and totaled 32.1 innings in which he hit 44 batters. In his minor league career, he has a 5-14 record and 176 strikeouts.

“I would say confidence was the biggest thing,” Slaten said when asked what the biggest difference was between this year and last year. “Last year I started not having the year I wanted to have, so I struggled a little bit to find the confidence to know I could pull out those kinds of hitters. Looking back I think when I was a junior in college the most important thing for me was that I had the confidence that I could throw the ball right down the middle and get good results. So a little bit last year it was definitely a confidence shot to get around and take guys for a walk sometimes, but I came here this year confident that I have what it takes to play at this level, to be at this level and let that take over.”

Slaten admits there are moments that feel a bit surreal.

“Whenever you’re playing well and you know you’re on the radar and people are watching you, it definitely gets a bit surreal at times when you start thinking about taking the next step and making it to the big leagues For the most part, I’m trying to embrace the attitude and be where my feet are, because that’s something I fell victim to last year when I was trying to leave North Carolina and come to Frisco to be closer to home be,” he said. “I took a better approach this year.”

He said he often thinks of people in Hallsville and represents his hometown and the East Texas community.

“I think of the guys when I go home and I go out onto the field, some of the different players there that I met and talked to, it’s definitely pretty cool because as a 24-year-old, minor league baseball plays, you don’t expect it to be a big deal,” he offered. “You go home and you see that it means something to these kids. It really helps. My brother now plays in the team and can share and talk to them as much knowledge as I can, but also encourage them on their own path.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone trying to get where they are, Slaten said, “The best advice I can give is to just keep going on your own journey and know that sometimes , when there’s something not going as planned or when things aren’t going the way you think they should, just be confident about where you are on your own journey and know that everything will fall into place, if you put in the work.

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