For Orioles outfielder Kyle Stowers this almost feels more official this time. He’s been in the big leagues earlier, but this time is added to the 40-man roster and not as a replacement player, his title for the games where he was with the team in Toronto in mid-June.
Stowers, who shared O’s Minor League Player of the Year honors with Adley Rutschman in 2021, may now be in the big leagues for good. He’s batting fifth and starting in right field tonight, and manager Brandon Hyde said he expects to play Stowers a lot.
“I’d say the little stretch was like my debut and this feels more like the call-up. So I’m excited,” Stowers said this afternoon in the Baltimore clubhouse.
“Super excited. I think it’s a really cool place this team is at, pushing for the playoffs. To get the opportunity to be a part of it and chase after something as special as that, I’m stoked for.
“Yeah, special to play at the home field of the team that drafted you. Although it’s not my debut, it’s my debut here and I’m excited.”
Stowers went 1-for-7 in the June Toronto series, and his RBI double in the seventh inning June 13th off Julian Merryweather produced his first big league hit and RBI.
With Triple-A Norfolk, he was batting .264/.357/.527/.884 with 29 doubles, three triples, 19 homers, 54 runs scored and 78 RBIs in 95 games. He is currently ranked among International League leaders in RBIs (1st), doubles (2nd), extra-base hits (51, 2nd), slugging percentage (5th), total bases (184, 6th), and OPS (T-8th).
Maybe he can take aim at the flag court in right field.
“I feel like part of my game is hitting the ball to all fields. Not going to necessarily try to pull it, but see what happens,” Stowers said.
Now that he has gotten his major league firsts out of the way in Toronto, he can take what happened there, learn from it and build on it.
“I think it’s just important to be the same guy. To be yourself," he said. "Stay aggressive, stay confident and then also have fun. Where the team is at is real exciting, and this is what you want to be part of.
“I think I raised my floor a lot (in his gains this year). The lows haven’t been as low as last year, and I think I have still been able to sustain some good production in those highs as well.”
Stowers, who leads O's minor leaguers in homers and RBIs and is tied for first in doubles and tied for third in OPS, added that he was not surprised to see the big club making such improvements in 2022.
“You know, with the group that was in spring training and the pieces that were added and the guys that have been here multiple years, you kind of could sense that this year was a turning of the page," Stowers said. "What that exactly looked like was to be seen, but there were a lot of great pieces and something special seemed to be brewing."
And now as he rejoins the Orioles, he certainly fits right in a clubhouse filled with younger players and with those he played with in the last two years on the farm, including Rutschman, Terrin Vavra, Tyler Nevin, Kyle Bradish and others.
“It’s really cool, great group of guys. Coming up together with some of your best friends is really fun," Stowers said.
Others could follow him here later: Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, for instance.
“They’re studs. They’re really good, Stowers said. "It was a lot of fun. Super impressed by the way they go about their business and who they are as people."