TT Bowens' feel-good moment part of another good day for the O's in Florida

SARASOTA, Fla. – An Orioles minor leaguer since the 2020 season, TT Bowens has shown some pop in his time in Birdland with 33 farm homers.

Yesterday he hit one that helped the Orioles win yet another spring training game. Bowens’ three-run homer to left in the top of the ninth in Bradenton broke a 2-2 as the O’s beat the Pirates 5-2 to get to 9-1 in the Grapefruit League.

The Orioles are rolling in Florida and Sunday it was Bowens, 25, with a real big swing and a feel-good moment.

The 2020 MLB Draft was shortened to five rounds and the O’s signed Bowens as a free agent out of Central Connecticut State after that draft. His 33 homers have come in 908 career at-bats. Last year in 59 games, 47 at Double-A Bowie, he produced a .697 OPS with eight longballs. He had an OPS of .724 last fall hitting four homers in 21 games in the Arizona Fall League.

He doesn’t make top 30 lists and can easily get overshadowed amidst the No. 1 farm system in the sport. But yesterday fans in Delmarva, Aberdeen and Bowie could say, “hey our guy helped the Orioles win a game.”

“Off a big league reliever too,” said O’s manager Brandon Hyde. The homer was off Dauri Moreta, who had 3.72 ERA and 11.8 K rate for the Pirates last year. “Yeah, great swing. It’s fun to watch those guys at the end of the game get an opportunity like that and fun to watch them come through.”

Bowens hit a slider that backed up a bit and then went a long way with a 96 mph exit velocity.

There were two on and one out, when Bowens hit his go-ahead homer.

“Stick to my plan,” he said of his approach in that situation. “Check the report on the pitcher. Know my strengths. In that situation, game tied, I’m trying to get the run in. I saw a good pitch and let it go and it happened to go over the fence.

“It was a very surreal experience. Just getting the opportunity to come over and play in these games, means a lot, especially being a minor leaguer.”

Cowser homered again: Outfield prospect Colton Cowser, who hit a walk-off homer in the first spring game, hit homer No. 3 Sunday in Bradenton. He drove an 0-2 cutter 372 feet down the right-field line off southpaw Martin Perez. He is now 4-for-11 this spring and 2-for-2 with two homers off lefties.

“I feel like I’m starting to feel more comfortable and showcase what I can do on the field,” said Cowser, ranked as the No. 19 prospect in baseball by “Like to cut down on the strikeouts a little bit but it’s spring, that happens. The spring is a really good time for the adjustments we make and feel like I’ve been doing that.”

Some of the young outfielders and prospects from Kyle Stowers, to Cowser, Coby Mayo, Jackson Holliday and more have had plenty of nice moments under the Florida sun.

“I don’t think we view it as competition (with each other),” Cowser said. “I want those guys to do as well as they can because in the end that makes everyone else better as well. They are off to great springs. It will continue to be a fun spring. Really happy with where I’m at and want to continue to build off that.”

Mateo’s day in center field: Jorge Mateo started in center field and made a few mostly routine plays in the field. Last year he played 20 innings in center and has played 94 there in his MLB career. He is likely trying to make this club as a super-utility type.

“I felt really good today, getting a good read off the balls that were hit and in a good position today,” he said through team translator Brandon Quinones.

He’s been working on several positions on defense.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit rushed, having to go from one position to the next. But the coaches have been doing a really good job of organizing things.”

He is even happy with his offense so far this spring.

“I feel right now my swing is in an even better place than it was at the start of last year and I think right now I’m in a position where I can do even more damage to the pitchers,” said Mateo.

Norby is back: Gunnar Henderson could make his first start of the spring today when the Orioles host Minnesota at Ed Smith Stadium.

On Sunday Connor Norby, who has been out with side soreness, made his spring debut late in the game. He doubled and walked in two plate appearances.

Norby had a huge 2023 season with Triple-A Norfolk, batting .290/.359/.483/.842 with 40 doubles, three triples, 21 homers, 104 runs and 92 RBIs. Baseball America ranks him the No. 6 club prospect and he was in their top 100, at No. 93, before the 2023 season.

“I’ve been watching everyone else rake and I wanted to get in on the party,” Norby quipped after the win.

Norby’s season last year kept him right up there in the prospect rankings and had to lift his confidence.

“It was really crucial I think for my confidence,” said Norby, who has been roommates with Jackson Holliday in this camp. “I tell people I never felt great last year. Like in Bowie and Norfolk at the end of 2022, I felt I could hit anybody. But last year I really never felt great, really until kind of the end. Felt like I was grinding all year, trying new stuff I felt like every other day.

"But I put up some pretty solid numbers, so I can’t complain with that. The adversity, it is not always like the light switch turns on and you are seeing everything and hitting it. There are a lot of nights you have to grind out ABs and that is what I felt like last year. Now it’s a new year, still trying to get better and I feel good.”

How many is that?:The Orioles have either a six or seven-game win streak. How can that be you might ask? On Monday they played two games as they split their squad. They beat the Braves but lost to the Rays. The win ended first that day and the loss followed. So, by my count, they are 6-0 since that loss to the Rays. But some schedules list the win second from that day. So that would make the win streak seven in a row. Confusing, yes, it is.

Today right-hander Dean Kremer gets the start for the Orioles in the game at 1:05 p.m. versus the Twins in Sarasota. They can extend a win streak of which the length is in the eye of the beholder.





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