After three seasons and 348 games in a Frederick Keys uniform, Billy Rowell is more than ready to play for a different minor league team.
For the first time in a few years, Rowell’s career move be on the move upward.
The O’s first-round pick in 2006, Rowell hit .275-11-61 this year with 25 doubles in 117 Keys games. His average was up from last season’s .225 and his OPS increased from .620 to .756.
“I just wanted to stay consistent throughout the second half. Consistency is part of the game. Brought my average up a little bit and got some key RBI’s,” Rowell said.
He finished with a flourish, batting .305 after the All-Star break and hitting .337-2-12 in 24 games in August.
He gave first-year coach and former big leaguer Denny Hocking credit for his help and tutelage.
“Denny really helped me. We had a meeting and the swing I was working with really wasn’t cutting it. We made some technical changes and it helped me for a while and then we tweaked it a couple of weeks later. We found a swing that was comfortable and I’ve been sticking with the same swing and same type of approach for the second half. Can’t thank Denny enough.”
Rowell said he shortened his stride and got his plant foot down sooner and it produced better results.
Now, after setting the record for most games played for Frederick, he’d like a shot at Double-A.
“Maybe, I’ll get out of here,” Rowell said with a laugh. “I did have fun playing here. It’s good to finally see progression in two years, thanks to Denny and his coaching abilities.”
Rowell is hoping and seems likely to get his shot at Double-A Bowie in 2011.
“Some guys go up there and hit better than in High-A. Little bit better umpiring and the pitchers are more around the strike zone. Hopefully I’ll do better than I did this year. It’s all about consistency, if I just come out and have a good first half, I can be perfectly fine in Double-A.”
Rowell is not expected to play winter ball.
But after a solid season with a good finish at Frederick, he may be putting himself back on the prospects map a bit.
“It’s not who you are, it’s what people think you are. When you have a lot of hype and you have a bad season, people tend to write you off. But I’m only 22 right now.
“If I have a big year at 22 or 23, everything changes. I don’t think I’m on the map right now. I feel like I still need to dominate a league to set in stone a spot in the big leagues, so in a sense, I’ve seen progression, but I don’t think I’m on the map yet because I didn’t dominate a league.”