Is Josh Bowman the Oakland Athletics’ Next Dan Straily?
These are some of the first things you learn about Minor League Baseball: Every Major League Baseball club has, on average, seven affiliates. Each of these affiliates, from Triple-A on down to the Dominican Summer League, are stocked with 12, or very likely much more than 12, pitchers. And this group of pitchers, naturally, has a pitching coach. So that is, on average, seven pitching coaches assigned to instruct dozens and dozens of pitchers.
So who the heck is the roving pitching coordinator? Every Major League Baseball club has one or more of these, too.
I found that out for sure this week when speaking with the A’s Gil Patterson, who is charged to collaborate with each of Oakland’s uniformed coaches to develop hurlers, all at different stages in their development. I was asking Patterson about one of his older pet projects, that 24th-round draftee that became the Minors’ strikeout leader (for a story about MiLBY [staff pick] award winner Dan Straily, which will be published on Oct. 31). But I also couldn’t help but ask Patterson, a former pitcher himself, who the next Dan Straily is.
Of course, there is no next Dan Straily. But in an organization that has been pitching-rich since (and certainly before) the Hudson-Zito-Mulder days, there is going to be another underrated, counted-out forgotten man who will start a season at Double-A and burn his own path to the Majors as Straily did — isn’t there?
I figured my hypothetical question was unanswerable. I posed it anyway, and Patterson didn’t hesitate to answer. ”I wouldn’t be surprised to see Josh Bowman do the same thing, but it would be difficult to repeat [what Straily accomplished],” he said. “[Bowman] struggled early on this year and then reeled off 15 straight [quality] games. He was 4 1/3 [innings] and 4 1/3 and then seven, seven, seven, seven and you’re like, ‘Whoa.’”
Which got me wondering whether Bowman should be on our radar in a way that Straily was not entering this past season? Straily wasn’t a ranked prospect entering 2012, and Bowman isn’t entering ’13…
Let’s go to the numbers:
Straily at Class A Advanced Stockton in 2011: 28 G — 26 GS — 160 2/3 IP — 3.87 ERA — 154-to-40 K-to-BB — .260 OPP .AVG — .323 BABIP
Bowman at Class A Advanced Stockton in ’12: 25 G — 25 GS — 146 2/3 IP — 3.62 ERA — 127-to-33 K-to-BB — .270 OPP .AVG — .323 BABIP
Uh, yeah, I see a similarity. Do you?
If not, here are some more: Straily and Bowman are both right-handed, stand 6-foot-2 and sit in the low-90-mph range with their fastballs. They are three months apart in age, played for non-powerhouse colleges and weren’t regarded highly in the Draft; Bowman was drafted one year after Straily but 14 rounds before him. Is he just one year behind?
Straily at Midland (AA)/Sacramento (AAA) in ’12: 25 G — 25 GS — 152 IP — 2.78 ERA — 190-to-42 K-to-BB — .202 OPP .AVG
Bowman at Midland (AA) in ’13: ???