Jonathan Bowlan had perhaps his best outing of the year on Wednesday. I wanted to take a look at what he did in order to have those results. Bowlan was the piggyback starter so he came into the game when Tyler Gray ran into trouble in the fifth inning. With no outs and runners on first and third, Bowlan came in and cleaned up the mess. Bowlan struck out the first batter he faced. Then with two strikes, the hitter tapped a come backer to him, and because the runner had taken off on the pitch he had to take the out at first allowing the runner on third to score. He then got another come backer to end the big inning for Greensboro.
Chase Vallot was Bowlan’s catcher for this one. They seemed to be on the same page for the most part. Vallot seemed to struggle at times with Bowlan’s velo. At one point, with two strikes, Bowlan threw a back foot slider that Jonah Davis swung and missed on. The pitch went right through Vallot, hit the back wall, careened off the brick hard enough for Vallot to pick up and throw Davis out at first. It was a great reactionary play by Vallot.
Stuff. Bowlan worked 6 strikeouts in 5.0 innings in this one. Five of the six strikeouts came on fastballs either up in the zone or away from the hitters. Bowlan worked his fastball up to 96 in this one (relying on the stadium scoreboard and the play-by-play). When Bowlan was in the stretch in his first inning of work, he was 91 to 94, working 92 and 93. When Bowlan was in the windup, he was consistently 94 to 95. It is also worth mentioning that his velo increased as he went along in this one. I’m not sure if that was because he was in the windup aside from 3 pitches or because he finally got dialed in after an unfamiliar warm up in the pen.
Bowlan threw his slider sparingly in this outing. I think he threw fewer than five total in his 5.0 innings. The pitch had good glove side movement and had some drop creating depth to it. The pitch moved sharp but almost seemed to move too early and hitters got a good look at it.
Again, Bowlan preferred his fastball over the change up. The change was used more than the slider but still not a lot. It was coming in from 85 to 87 so about an 8 mph difference which is what you want. The change had some sink and a some arm side run. Bowlan controlled it well and used it almost exclusively against LHHs.
Approach. Bowlan was loving his big fastball in this start using it to get ahead of hitters and put hitters away. He did an excellent job controlling both sides of the plate with the fastball. Almost every batter saw a fastball in for a first pitch strike followed by a fastball away. If he went 0-2, Bowlan almost always elevated the fastball to get his swings and misses.
I only saw three at bats in which Bowlan used his slider as the first pitch and both of those were against RHHs. Only once did I see Bowlan use a change up to start an at bat and that was against a LHH.
Bowlan used his change up when he was in even counts more than he did when he was ahead in the count. The change up seemed to be more of a show pitch just to mess with a hitters timing because Bowlan obviously likes using his fastball.
There were a few times that Bowlan threw the two-seamer in on a LHH trying to freeze him and get that inside corner. It worked several times, but not with two strikes.
Bowlan really challenged the Greensboro hitters in this game. He basically said, “here is my fastball. Hit it if you can.” But he did such a good job locating it on both edges, it was difficult for hitters to get solid contact.
Mechanics. Bowlan uses a hybrid stance with his left foot out in front while in the wind up. He starts with a small rocker step and simultaneously lifts his hands over his head. He stays tight to his body and delivers smoothly to the plate. There is no head whack and he looks like he uses very little effort.
Out of the stretch, Bowlan uses a leg lift. He isn’t as quick as some pitchers, but he is fast enough to keep guys from running. He did pick multiple times with a runner on first trying to keep the lead short to give him more time to go to the plate.
Overall. This was an excellent outing by Bowlan allowing only one base runner. That was on a first pitch slider that got a little slurvy that was looped down the left field line toward the corner.
Bowlan did an excellent job taking the fight to the hitter making them adjust to his fastball. Bowlan was able to control both the inside and outside corner against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. When he felt a hitter might have a read on him, he changed it up either elevating a fastball or using a slider or change up.
Bowlan seemed to have an old-school mentality in this one. Not only with the hands over his head in his windup, but by using a heavy fastball load making hitters prove they could hit the fastball before he went away from it.
Bowlan really grew on me in this start. Marcus reported him as an innings eating, backend starter last year on draft day. With his frame, attacking mentality, old-school mindset, and the ability to control both sides of the plate, he might be more than that. In order for that to happen, I think he will have to make sure his off speed pitches are refined as he faces better and better hitters at each level. Bowlan has done well so far in A-ball and I’m not surprised after watching this start. I think he is another one of those guys who needs to move up soon to continue to challenge him and keep his development moving forward.
Image taken from Legends website. No photo credit was given.