The Florida Gators are shaping up to be one of the most well represented teams in the first round of Monday’s MLB draft. The Gators are projected to have three first round picks: Brady Singer, Jonathan India, and the prospect we are going to highlight in this article, Jackson Kowar.
Kowar is a 6’6″, RHP, from the University of Florida. In 2015, Kowar was one of the top rated prep arms coming out of his home state of North Carolina. In high school, Kowar usually worked around 88-93 mph, but was strong in his commitment to play for the Gators. He was drafted in the 40th round by the Detroit Tigers.
This time around, Kowar won’t wait as long to hear his name called in the draft. As a junior this year for the Gators, Kowar has pitched to a tune of 9-4 with a 3.21 ERA. He also has 91 strikeouts in 92.2 IP. His walk rate has remained almost identical to his sophomore campaign. Even though Kowar’s partner in the rotation, Brady Singer, will be selected higher then him in the draft. There are still scouts that love Kowar more than Singer as a prospect.
One of the reasons why some scouts like Kowar more is because of his big frame and live fastball. Kowar can reach back and throw 98, but hits mid 90’s with ease during his starts. The fastball at times can straighten out a bit, and Kowar hasn’t showed big strikeout numbers for a guy with his size and fastball velocity.
Kowar’s second best offering is his changeup and it grades out at 60, so it is a plus pitch for him. He is able to offer a good difference in speed between his fastball and changeup. The thing that Kowar lacks is a good breaking ball. His curveball can flash as a plus pitch at times, but it still has a ways to go.
Kowar pitches with a clean and repeatable delivery, and has live arm action. Some scouts believe that his arm could get even stronger when he gets into pro ball. He is far from a finished project, so whatever team drafts Kowar will be getting a big pitcher with all the tools there. With the right development he could turn into a nice middle of the rotation type of starter, or worse case scenario he doesn’t get his curveball going and he becomes a two pitch bullpen guy. Either way he has an electric fastball, but has some work to do on the offspeed.
The concerns revolving around Kowar are in his ability to develop his curveball. Being strictly a fastball changeup guy is going to make it hard on a pitcher. He’s an average athlete, and throws strikes fairly consistently.
As it is with most guys in the MLB draft, Kowar’s draft stock is predicted to be all over the place. He could end up with the Royals at 18 or fall to the end of the first round. As for a fit on the Royals, it wouldn’t be a bad selection. He probably still becomes the Royals #1 pitching prospect, but thats because they lack starting prospects with electric fastballs. It wouldn’t be the worst pick that the Royals could end up with, but with the money that they have available in the draft. It might be hard passing up on prep arms that offer a higher ceiling, like Ethan Hankins and Kumar Rocker.