O's No. 12 prospect Stowers talks first pro year

January 3rd, 2020

BALTIMORE -- When Kyle Stowers -- Baltimore's No. 12-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- heard his name called in the supplemental round in last June’s Draft, he knew it meant the beginning of a new chapter in his baseball life. He just didn’t know how many friends he’d be embarking on it with.

The day after the Orioles chose Stowers with the No. 71 overall pick, they selected his Stanford teammate, Maverick Handley, in the sixth round. The day after, they drafted first baseman Andrew Daschbach, another Cardinal, in the 11th round. The selections themselves were not unexpected -- Stanford would see nine players taken from its Super Regional-qualifying 2019 squad.

But for three teammates to be snatched up by the same club? That’s rare, and something Stowers still calls “definitely exciting.”

“We all have the same goal in mind, right?” Stowers said recently. “One day, get to the big leagues and even further than that, competing for a World Series. That’s what everyone wants to do, and hopefully our class can be a part of something moving forward and a few of us can contribute at the big league level sometime down the road.”

The Orioles’ hope is the same, especially for Stowers, their third player taken in what was their most consequential Draft in some time. The Orioles weren’t in a position to weather many early-round misses given the ground-floor state of their rebuild, and it was executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias’ first chance to put his stamp on a farm system he’s vowed to restock from the ground up.

Stowers was the first of three college outfielders Elias would take with his first eight picks, after choosing Adley Rutschman first overall and high school shortstop Gunnar Henderson in the second round.

“He had a really good year at Stanford, and that’s not an easy place to put up numbers,” Elias said at the time. “We feel like the bat will move around to other outfield spots if he’s not playing center. It’s a strong profile if he ends up in center or somewhere else. Just a good all-around player.”

Stowers subsequently played all three outfield positions this summer at Low-A Aberdeen, where he spent his first summer in pro ball alongside Handley and Daschbach. The jump proved challenging for Stowers, who hit .216 with six home runs and .667 OPS in 55 games. That could mean he opens 2020 back with the IronBirds or with the Single-A Delmarva Shorebirds, especially since fellow outfield draftees Zach Watson (fourth round) and Johnny Rizer (seventh) have already graduated to Class A.

“I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed,” Stowers said. “I think it’s so easy for us, when we have some failures and setbacks, that we go, ‘Well, that didn’t work.’ When, in reality, it could be the best thing for us.”

Stowers said he struggled similarly during his freshman year at Stanford and that it was “the best thing for me.” He ended up hitting .295 with 19 home runs and a .892 OPS over his sophomore and junior seasons and shot up draft boards thanks to a monster summer in the Cape Cod League in 2018.

“How it catapulted me into those next two years was, it wasn’t necessarily that I looked back at my first year as a failure, but as a big stepping stone for what I needed to learn moving forward,” Stowers said. “You take each good day, each bad day, with a grain of salt and build off it and come to the field the next day with a fresh mind.

“I think that for me, learning how to flush things and go into the next day and not allow things to snowball was a little more difficult to do than I thought. But at the same time, you need those experiences to learn from.”