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Festa is fasta: Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher David Festa making a name for himself in Twins organization
A jump in velocity from college has Cedar Rapids Kernels starting pitcher David Festa on a very good path in his minor league baseball career
CEDAR RAPIDS — He’s a guy to keep an eye on, someone who prospect “experts” are beginning to pay attention.
The reason for that is simple. Festa is fasta.
“I’m listening to the coaches and what they have put out for me,” Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher David Festa said. “There are a lot of smart people in this organization. I just kind of listen to them, because they know what’s best for me. I’m just happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ve just got to stick to it and keep improving day in and day out.”
Festa is a 22-year-old right-hander with a lanky 6-foot-6 frame. The parent Minnesota Twins drafted him in the 13th round last year out of Seton Hall, where he was a first-team all-Big East Conference pick.
But his stuff certainly isn’t 13th roundish. He has a good changeup and improving slider to go along with a fastball that sits between 95 and 98 miles per hour and that has touched 99 this season.
That’s a significant jump from his college days, when Festa said he usually pitched between 90 and 93 mph with his heater.
“Just doing the right things, honestly,” Festa said. “They are really smart here, they know what they’re doing: mechanically, strength-wise, in the weight room, all those things. I think it’s doing what’s smart, but also sticking to a routine. I’m really into keeping the same routine. What’s working, don’t change it. It’s a culmination of a lot of things. I’m just happy I’m in a good place with a lot of good people.”
Festa made five starts to begin this season for low-Class A Fort Myers, pitching to a 1.50 earned run average. He allowed just 12 hits and six walks in 24 innings, striking out 33.
He was part of a three-pitcher no-hitter for the Mighty Mussels in mid-May.
Since his promotion to high-A, Festa hasn’t slowed down. He has a 3-0 record and 2.19 ERA in five appearances, three starts, giving up just 20 hits and four walks in 20 innings, striking out 27.
“He has some good stuff,” said Kernels Manager Brian Dinkelman. “His fastball jumps pretty good, he has a good changeup. I know he’s still working on his slider. But he attacks hitters and can run it up there to 96, 98, whatever. I like him as a pitcher.”
Festa went five innings in his last start Wednesday afternoon against Dayton, not necessarily relying on his big fastball. He threw a lot of sliders the first time through the Dragons order, then went with his changeup a lot the second time through.
“My slider, I’m really happy with the progress it has made,” he said.
Festa was asked if he felt like there are more eyes on him now with the success he’s had the first 2 1/2 months of the season.
“I don’t care. Obviously I’m just trying to do well in the field,” he said. “I’ll let the results speak for themselves. That’s not something to worry about. I’ve got to worry about what’s on the field and kind of the stuff I do on a week-to-week basis. The off-the-field stuff, I try not to worry much about it. It will all file into place.
“When you start worrying about those things off the field, you lose focus on the things on the field.”
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