Elias on Stowers: "This guy still has his whole career ahead of him"

The major league side of Kyle Stowers’ 2023 season can’t be spun positively.

Breaks camp with the team, is optioned after appearing in only three games and getting one start, is brought back April 30 and optioned again May 15, and doesn’t return.

Receives only 33 plate appearances total over 14 games and goes 2-for-30 with 12 strikeouts.

Can’t shine that season. But the Orioles’ confidence in Stowers hasn’t dulled.

A comment floated to executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias at the Winter Meetings that Stowers had “a lost season” was returned with the following observation:

“Quietly had a really good year.”

Let’s make some noise here.

Stowers played in 68 games with Triple-A Norfolk, injuries robbing him of more at- bats, and had nine doubles, a triple, 17 home runs, 49 RBIs, 40 walks, a .364 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage.

Right shoulder inflammation put Stowers on the injured list in late May and kept him away from the Tides until July 14. He belted four home runs in seven rehab games in the Florida Complex League and with High-A Aberdeen, made it back to Norfolk’s roster and was hit in the face with a pitch Aug. 29 that fractured his nose.

The latest bad break in Stowers’ season kept him out for a couple of weeks. He doubled twice in his return and homered in the following game, and he hit two home runs in the penultimate game of the regular season.

“He missed a lot of time after getting beaned in the face, which was awful,” Elias said. “It was terrible timing, too, in terms of him getting a look in September, which was something we were hoping to do. But this guy still has his whole career ahead of him.

“Huge power tool. He’s big and athletic, he plays the corners well, he can throw. There’s a lot there, and it’s kind of an under-the-radar person that could be a factor for us this season. And I think the fact that we have a talent like that and he doesn’t get a lot of attention speaks to the depth that we have in the system.”

The failure to move an outfielder in a trade would leave the Orioles with Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander as the primary starters again. Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad made their major league debuts this summer and both are left-handed hitters like Stowers.

So is Sam Hilliard, a waiver claim who signed for $800,000 to avoid arbitration.

Hilliard is out of options. Stowers has two left.

The Orioles have some decisions to make with their outfield. They aren’t forgetting about Stowers.

* New closer Craig Kimbrel is listed as No. 46 on the club’s 40-man roster. We can check back on it after the Orioles publish their spring training roster.

Kimbrel wore the number with the Braves and Red Sox before signing with the Cubs prior to the 2019 season. Former Orioles reliever Pedro Strop already had it, so Kimbrel switched to 24.

He reclaimed 46 with the White Sox in 2021 and Dodgers in 2022. The Phillies gave Kimbrel 31 this season.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, the last Orioles player to wear 46 was pitcher Jeremy Guthrie from 2007-11. The late Mike Flanagan most famously wore it from 1975-92, followed by John O’Donoghue in 1993, Jimmy Myers in 1996 and Kerry Ligtenberg in 2003.

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