Guys On The Rise – Jackson Kowar
Kansas City sports fans might be waiting for the Chiefs to return to Arrowhead for the foreseeable future, but in a few years, they might have another team that is competitive in its respective sport.
When the Royals won their World Series in 2015, their farm system was one of the worst in the league. It has taken a few years but the Royals are on their way back. The top tier of their system is filled with selections from the 2018 draft where they had four picks in the first round. In a surprising move, the Royals selected five college pitchers with their first five picks; Brady Singer (#18), Daniel Lynch (#34), Kris Bubic (#40), Jonathan Bowan (#58), and Jackson Kowar (#33).
Jackson Kowar, along with his teammate, Brady Singer, led the Florida Gators to a national championship before both were selected in the draft. After being drafted, both were sent to Low-A, where Kowar threw another 26.1 innings with a 3.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 22 strikeouts before being shut down for the season. The Royals assigned him to High-A to begin the 2019 season and he performed well. In his 74 innings, he struck out 66 batters, with a 3.53 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. He was then promoted to Double-A, where across 74 innings, his ERA (3.51) and WHIP (1.26) stayed relatively the same. However, his strikeout rate jumped up 4 ticks to 25.2 K% and his walk rate fell slightly to 6.8%. We also saw a jump in his CSW% from 28% in High-A to 32% in Double-A. A bump up in competition levels while keeping things steady or improving is very encouraging to see.
Kowar is a 6’5″ righty who has a low to mid-nineties fastball that has great late-life and should generate a bunch of groundballs. However, he was getting his heater to the upper-nineties in Spring Training this year before everything was shut down. Kowar’s best pitch is easily his changeup, which might be one of the best in the minor leagues right now. It sits in the mid-eighties and just falls off the table causing batters to swing and miss constantly. His third offering is a curveball but it needs a lot of work before it is a plus offering. However, towards the end of the season in Double-A, he seemed to be confident in using it more, which will greatly help his stock. Kowar’s delivery is clean, simple, and he has been able to consistently repeat it. Even if the curveball never develops to a legit third pitch, Kowar will still become a valuable starter, based on his supreme fastball/changeup combo. Some scouts have compared him to Paddack and how he can be very effective with only two pitches. Third pitch or not, Kowar is someone that needs to be on your radar. He was going to start the season in Triple-A and is just an injury away from the majors.