Kowar fans 9, allows 2 hits in 6-plus innings

August 22nd, 2021

On a night full of strong pitching performances across the Minor Leagues, the Royals' top right-handed pitching prospect was nothing short of quality himself.

Ranked No. 92 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 prospects list, Jackson Kowar fanned nine and allowed just two hits and two walks across six-plus strong innings in Omaha's 3-0 win over Columbia at Werner Park. It's his fifth scoreless start of the season and the third time he's gone at least six innings.

Kowar needed just seven pitches to get through the first inning and was dealt his first challenge in the second after a fielding error put a man on first with one out. He quickly disposed of the next batter on four pitches and worked back from a 3-1 count to fan Connor Marabell to end the inning.

Working with a 1-0 lead in the third, a one-out walk was promptly erased when catcher MJ Melendez nabbed Alex Call with a perfectly placed throw to shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. Now with two out and nobody on, Kowar struck out the next batter, winning the battle after a seven-pitch at-bat.

The first of two hits Kowar would allow came in the next inning in the form of a leadoff double. After a one-pitch groundout to get the first out, the 6-foot-5 righty fanned Nolan Jones, Cleveland's No. 3 prospect, before inducing a popout to leave the runner stranded. KC's No. 4 prospect Nick Pratto blasted his third homer in three games in the bottom of the frame, his ninth in Triple-A, to make it a 2-0 game.

After an uneventful fifth and sixth inning, Kowar was tasked with facing the heart of the Columbus order in the seventh. At 79 pitches, it looked like the Florida product was poised to record an out in the seventh inning for the first time all season. But a leadoff single on the first pitch and a four-pitch walk to Jones ended Kowar's night and put his team's lead in jeopardy. After reliever Dylan Coleman gave up a single to load the bases, the possibility of Kowar's scoreless outing being ruined loomed large.

But Coleman got the No. 6 hitter, Will Benson, to chop a grounder to first baseman Pratto, who stepped on the bag before slinging the ball back home to complete the double play. Coleman then struck out Marabell to escape the jam. Kowar's 3.45 ERA would stay that way.

The No. 33 overall pick of the 2018 Draft, Kowar spent time with the Major League club in June after posting a 0.85 ERA through his first six Triple-A starts. He pitched just five innings in three appearances before being sent back to Omaha. It's been an adjustment ever since, as Kowar saw his ERA balloon to 3.75, but Saturday's outing was an encouraging sign for the 24-year-old, who notched his first scoreless start since July 17 -- a game he also gave up just two hits and fanned eight over five scoreless.

Through 16 games (15 starts) in Triple-A, Kowar has fanned 108 batters -- 110 total if you count his appearances with the Royals -- and walked 34 with only five home runs allowed in 75 2/3 innings.