O's co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller on Colton Cowser's great start to the season

Has there been a hitter with stats so radically different from one year to the next than Orioles outfielder Colton Cowser?

Maybe there has been, but when your OPS gains over 1.000 points, from .433 last year to 1.444 this year after Sunday’s game, that is a big leap up. And yes, the sample size is small in both seasons – he had 77 plate appearances last year and has 38 this season.

“Very proud of him, very happy with his adjustments. He took what we said into the offseason, worked with his coach back in Texas. Made great adjustments, not just the physical adjustments, but the mental adjustments too. Really confident at the plate and goes in with a great plan of attack,” O’s co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller said before Sunday’s game.

Cowser hit a solo homer in the last of the eighth yesterday to provide a big insurance run as the Orioles beat Milwaukee 6-4. He is the first Oriole with four homers in four games since Ryan Mountcastle from April 10-13, 2023. He is the first Oriole rookie to do that since Mountcastle from June 16-19, 2021.

Through Saturday's games, Cowser’s K rate had dropped year-over-year from 28.6 to 23.5 and his average exit velocity increased from 87.4 to 92.7 mph. His hard-hit rate, which was 42.5 last year is now 58.3.

Cowser’s barrel percentage leaped up big from only 2.5 percent last year and was at 16.7 percent this season through Saturday. To be barreled, a batted ball requires an exit velocity of at least 98 mph. At that speed, balls struck with a launch angle between 26-30 degrees always garner barreled classification.

Yep, he is barreling plenty of baseball these days.

Beyond those numbers, Cowser has been wearing out left field this season. In 2023 he hit balls to the left side 27.5 percent of the time and that is up to 37.5.

“That is one of the gifts that he has, being able to go pole-to-pole," Fuller said. "We have seen that in the minor leagues too. And we’ve seen that with our minor league hitters like Gunnar (Henderson), being able to go oppo taco like he did in (Low-A) Delmarva so often. For Colton it was really that pull side power, seeing it come out. He has power both ways. I think he’ll be able to tame the wall in Baltimore a bit too with his power. It’s going to be pretty special.” 

Cowser is 10-for-23 during a six-game hitting streak. For the year he is 15-for-34 batting .441/.474/.971/1.444 with six doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs.

Before Sunday's game, Fuller expressed confidence that rookie Jackson Holliday’s first hit would be coming soon and it did during the O’s seventh-inning rally. Holliday went 1-for-4 and is now 1-for-15.

Fuller said he saw the kid make adjustments during spring training and expects to see him do it now during the regular season.

“Think that is why we’re not worried,” Fuller said. “We have seen him do this against big league pitchers, (Yusei) Kikuchi in spring training. It’s spring training obviously and there is not as much pressure, but we’ve seen him do it at a high level and make adjustments and he’s very cognizant of what he is doing now and the adjustments he needs to make. So, it’s just a matter of time before we're going to see the talent that we’ve all been very aware of, come through."

A few notes on the O's after Sunday's win:

* The Orioles now have seven comeback wins among their nine victories.

* Baltimore pitchers have fanned 139 hitters, the most in club history through the team's first 15 games.

* Closer Craig Kimbrel is 2-0 with three saves and an ERA of 1.50 in six games. In six innings, he has no walks and 11 strikeouts. His top fastball touched 96.6 mph Sunday. Opponents on the season are batting just .150 against him with a .293 OPS.

* Ryan O'Hearn drove in two runs in the win, his first multi-RBI game after he had 13 last year.

* The O's gave up seven homers in the Milwaukee series, but Baltimore batters have mashed 11 homers the past four games. 

On the farm: High-A Aberdeen right-hander Moisés Chace had another strong game Sunday. He pitched four scoreless as the IronBirds beat Wilmington 10-4. In two games this season, he has thrown eight scoreless on three hits with two walks and 15 strikeouts.

Chace, 20, from La Guaira, Venezuela, pitched at Low-A Delmarva in both 2022 and 2023 and reportedly touched 96 with his heater last season. 

He was in the O's first international signing class under Mike Elias and Koby Perez on July 2, 2019 and was signed for $225,000.

Triple-A Norfolk now has a seven-game losing streak. The Tides lost 6-5 to Scranton Sunday. They were swept in that six-game series and their offense was held to 17 runs in the series. After a 7-1 start, Norfolk is now 7-8. 

Bowie lost 7-4 to Hartford yesterday and is 4-5 while Delmarva picked up its first win beating Salem 4-1 to get to 1-8. Right-hander Michael Forret, the Birds' 14th round draft pick last summer, pitched five hitless and scoreless innings with seven strikeouts. 

Hays in left field and Cowser in right tonight vs....
Mailbag leftovers for breakfast

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