What to expect from Colton Cowser in the MLB

The prospect’s parade continues in Baltimore.

Cowser will become the fifth first round pick of the 2021 draft to reach the major leagues. He ranked 10th on the MLB Pipeline draft list that year, and the Orioles took him 5th, and they signed him for an under-slot bonus of $4.9 million. It was the second year in a row that the team took a college player and made a trade, after taking runner-up Heston Kjerstad in 2020, a move that once again allowed them to overtake the slot for several players later in the draft.

The highest drafted player in Sam Houston State history, Cowser showed he was much more than a money-saver when he finished with a . 982 OPS over 32 games in his professional debut, most of which were spent with Single-A Delmarva. Cowser excelled in 2022, his first full professional season, reaching Triple-A and finishing with 19 homers and 18 steals to go along with a 15% walk rate.

The other side of that coin was Cowser’s swing and miss, which was a bit surprising to some given he entered his professional ball hitting profile. The left-handed hitter struck out 174 times (27.8 percent) in 2022 and seemed to struggle with breaking things in particular at Double-A and Triple-A (error rate 44 percent).

Long known for a forward approach with a keen strike zone sense, Cowser unsurprisingly made some adjustments in 2023, which he spent exclusively at Triple-A. He has .996 OPS on the season (.330/.459/.537), with 10 homers and 7 steals, and he still pulls in plenty of walks (18.7%). However, his strike rate has been reduced to 23.3 percent. He lost fewer broken balls (40 percent), improved more against sliders, and lowered his fielding error rate from 44 percent to 36 percent). He simply doesn’t miss fastballs; According to Synergy, Cowser hit a .430/.576/.785 on seeing heater this year. Eight of his 23 catchers have faced fastballs, and he maintains his knack for hitting and driving the ball into all fields.

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Suffice it to say, Cowser should expect a steady diet of high-speed, top-spinning stuff. Whether he can continue to adapt will be key to his big league success offensively. One thing that works in Cowser’s favor is his ability to see a lot of pitches and not wave at shows out of the area. Being able to hit good hitters numbers will help him see and enjoy more fastballs, but don’t be shocked if Kauser’s batting rate goes up a bit when his feet are wet.

Cowser is not just a batsman. Although he is not a burning, he makes good use of the speed he has on both sides of the ball. He’s a smart and aggressive base runner, who should keep stealing some bags in Majors. He’s also shown that he has the wheels and the instincts to play a solid center field, something the Residents weren’t sold on in his draft. He’s certainly capable of playing an outside corner, which is likely to happen with Cedric Mullins creating a central midfield for the O’s.

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