KC prospect Bowlan on track from TJ rehab

March 19th, 2022

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Royals had a big wave of their young pitchers graduate to the Majors in 2021, three years after a college-heavy pitching Draft class. Brady Singer and Kris Bubic had already made their debuts in 2020, and Daniel Lynch, Jackson Kowar and Jon Heasley joined them last season. Carlos Hernández was an international signee in 2016, but he’s in that group of young starters and also established himself in ’21.

There might have been one more in Jonathan Bowlan, had he not injured his right elbow and required Tommy John surgery.

The good news for the Royals and Bowlan is his rehab is going extremely well, despite not being able to have communication with the club during the lockout because he was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. Bowlan, the Royals’ No. 10 prospect, is expected to throw off a mound for the first time in about two weeks and is on track to return to game action around midseason.

“The transition was definitely different because I was coming here every day, and at home, I wasn’t able to work with the guys who have seen the full injury,” Bowlan said. “But it could have been a lot worse. I felt like I got the work that I needed. Whenever you’re in one place, you get so used to one schedule and system. And then when you see a different perspective, you’re able to add that to what you do now so you’ll be better in the long run.”

Bowlan, the Royals’ second-round Draft pick in 2018 out of the University of Memphis, got off to a stellar start last year with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and looked to be on the fast track to the Majors. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Bowlan is an imposing presence on the mound. It helps his 95 mph fastball play up, as well as his slider and changeup. He has pinpoint command and pounds the zone to righties and lefties.

Heading into his fourth start of the season, he had thrown 16 1/3 innings, allowed three runs and struck out 23 batters. He was two outs into his fourth start -- both strikeouts -- but felt a pull in his elbow and exited the game at Springfield.

A week later, he was scheduled for Tommy John surgery in Kansas City.

“It definitely was not fun,” Bowlan said. “It was very frustrating, and that next week in Arkansas, it was like, ‘Man, I’m not going to be on a baseball field for like a year.’ And those thoughts go through your head. But I also have a very good support system with teammates, family and friends, and they allowed me to push through it each and every day. Trying to come back stronger than I was before.”

Bowlan’s support system includes his mom, Connie, and dad, Mark Bowlan, who also pitched at Memphis and was a 39th-round selection by the Cardinals in the 1989 Draft. The father-son duo both have accolades to their names; Mark was the only pitcher in school history to throw a perfect game for Memphis, while Jonathan became the second-highest Tigers player drafted when the Royals took him with the 58th overall pick.

When the lockout began, Bowlan moved back home to Memphis and did rehab work at Campbell Clinic, one of the best orthopedic institutes in the area. The positive side of the lockout was Bowlan being back home and around his big family, which includes three sisters, three nieces and two nephews.

“Being at home was huge,” Bowlan said. “It was a mental reset. I was able to go to nephews’ games, watch my nieces. It was just a blast. It was such a mental reset, and I’m beyond ready to go from this moment on.”

Bowlan is back in the big league clubhouse this spring and is itching to get back on the mound.

“Can’t wait,” he said. “I already know what’s going to be going through my mind. Might rev up a little bit. I’ll have to be conscious to slow things down.”

Low-volume day
The Cactus League schedule allowed the Royals to ease into Spring Training, with a day off from game action Saturday.

The club still met for a workout at the complex, but several players lessened their workload after a game Friday and in preparation for Sunday’s game against the D-backs at Surprise Stadium.

“We got a lot of different things we need to go through between pitchers and infielders, pickoffs and communications, timing,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Today’s a good day for that. We’ll back off a little bit on the overall volume of throws and for swings. Had quite a bit yesterday with the game, making sure they’re ready, which meant more swings as they did their prep, and then higher intensity when they got on the field. We’ll take advantage of the day today and get ready for tomorrow.”

Brady Singer and Amir Garrett threw side sessions, while Daniel Lynch threw live batting practice to Vinnie Pasquantino, Clay Dungan, Brewer Hicklen and Sebastian Rivero.

Royals rumblings
• Jackson Kowar will start Sunday’s game and will likely go two to three innings in his spring debut.

• Matheny emphasized his appreciation for the offense he saw Friday, especially in the seventh inning against Rangers top prospect Jack Leiter, who struck out the side in the sixth. Then with two outs in the seventh, Cam Gallagher singled, Nick Pratto homered and Kyle Isbel, MJ Melendez and Pasquantino put together back-to-back-to-back walks. Dungan hustled out a single to tie the game.

“How about those at-bats in the seventh? Off a guy throwing really well,” Matheny said. “Leiter was mowing through guys. Then Pratto puts together a good at-bat. Then it’s homer, walk, walk, walk. That was fun to see.”