Bryce Stowell Rides Electric Fastball to Success
Ronnie Tellalian | On 18, Jun 2013
With all the issues that have plagued the Tribe this year, few thought the bullpen would be a point of weakness. Injuries and struggles have caused the once mighty pen to have a few shaky moments, and the troubles of Indians closer Chris Perez have thrown another wrench into the cogs. Luckily the Indians have a good deal of relief depth in their system. One of those players is Akron Aeros right handed reliever Bryce Stowell.
Stowell was drafted by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2008 draft out of the University of California, Irvine. He started his career in 2009 at Lake County but quickly moved up to Kinston (now Carolina) for the majority of the season out of the bullpen. Then next year he began at Kinston where he went 1-0 with a 1.42 era in 11 games. In a most impressive showing, he struck out 41 batters in 25 innings pitched. He moved up to Akron later in that season and pitched 22 scoreless innings before getting called up to Columbus in just his second Minor League season.
In 2011 he started the year at Akron and pitched very well. He went 1-0 with a 1.86 era and a whopping 28 strikeouts in 13 innings. He was toughing 100 mph on the radar gun and was set to be one the call-up when rosters were expanded in September. Unfortunately a strained right elbow sidelined Stowell and he was unable to advance.
He started the 2012 season again in Akron, coming off the injured elbow he was expected to start the season there and move up when he was ready. That never happened for Stowell despite a well-pitched season that saw him strike out 44 batters in 29 innings with a 3.75 era.
Stowell began this season again at Double A Akron. He has pitched strong this season for Akron, through 33.2 innings he holds a record of two wins and one loss to go along with a 2.67 era. He has struck out 46 batters and recorded four saves on the year. The season got off to a strong start as Stowell struck out seven batters in the first 2.2 innings he pitched; he went seven appearances before giving up his first earned run. He has also shown some durability out of the pen, pitching two or more innings of relief in a game eight times.
The big stunt in Stowell’s career has been the injury bug. He was missed at least a little bit of time in almost every season he has pitched since beginning his career in 2009. If not for his injuries, he may already have reached the Major Leagues. This season may be a pattern breaker for Stowell.
“This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,” Stowell said, “I feel great, my arm feels great.”
When he is healthy, he can be a dominating pitcher. He can still reach back and hit the high 90’s on the radar gun, and his fastball is overpowering at the Double A level. His delivery has a lot of moving parts and it is a bit forced, this gives him a good deal of control issues. Couple that with his lack of a good secondary pitch and you have your answer as to why he is still in Akron. If he can get some control over his mechanics and develop a good second pitch, he could be a very solid contributor to the Indians pen.
“It’s been tough,” Stowell said, “You want to make it to [the Majors], you want to get there but it’s a long road. You have to do certain things but I feel good now. I feel like getting there.”
If Stowell can stay out of the training room, he has a real chance at making it, maybe even this year. His power is there with a 12.3 strikeouts per nine innings, but he needs to display better command. Even with the control issues, his electric power fastball could take him pretty far. For now he is helping the Akron Aeros hold onto wins by shutting down teams out of the bullpen.
The Aeros have steadily climbed the ranks in the Eastern League West winning seven of their last ten games to pull to within 2.5 games of the division lead. Over the last week they defeated New Hampshire Fisher Cats 7-0. They had 13 hits on the night; the team’s offense has really come around lately with many young players finding their groove at the Double A level. They lost the nest game to New Hampshire the next day 8-9, they put up another impressive offensive show but the bullpen lost the game when they gave up five runs in the ninth. Stowell pitched well in the game going two innings giving up zero runs and striking out two.
The next series kicked off with a 6-3 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs. They won game two by a score of 6-2 and Stowell had another strong showing in the game. He pitched 0.2 innings with no base runners allowed and one strikeout. The game marked four in a row that the Aeros scored six or more runs. Stowell pitched again the next night in the Aeros 7-4 loss. He threw 1.1 innings, striking out three batters and again did not allow a runner to reach base. Akron is currently sporting an even .500 record at 34-34.