The Baltimore Orioles tonight selected outfielder Colton Cowser from Sam Houston State University (TX) with the fifth overall selection of the 2021 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Cowser, 21, hit .374/.490/.680 (76-for-203) with 16 home runs, 10 doubles, two triples, 61 runs, 52 RBI, and 42 walks in 55 games during his junior season in 2021. He ranked in the top five in the Southland Conference (SLC) in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, hits, RBI, and home runs. He was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year, becoming the second player in Sam Houston history to earn the honor. He earned All-SLC First Team, SLC All-Defensive Team, and SLC All-Tournament team honors, leading Sam Houston to the SLC title game. Cowser became the first Bearkat in program history to be named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, in addition to being named to the preseason All-SLC First Team, Baseball America preseason All-American First Team, Perfect Game preseason All-American Second Team, and Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award preseason watch list. He was ranked as the No. 10 overall draft prospect by MLB.com and the No. 11 prospect by Baseball America.
As a sophomore in 2020, Cowser started all 14 games for Sam Houston State, hitting safely in his first eight games before the cancelation of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He finished the season batting .255/.379/.364 (14-for-55) with one home run, three doubles, 14 runs, six RBI, and eight walks. Entering the season, he made program history by becoming the first Bearkat to be named to the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list. Cowser was also named to the preseason All-American Third Team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA), Preseason All-American Third Team by D1Baseball.com, Preseason All-America Third Team by Collegiate Baseball, Preseason All-SLC Conference First Team, and Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award preseason watch list.
As a true freshman in 2019, Cowser started 56 games, hitting .361/.450/.602 (78-for-216) with seven home runs, 17 doubles, seven triples, 50 runs, 54 RBI, and 26 walks. He was named the Southland Conference Hitter of the Year and an All-SLC First Team Outfielder. Cowser earned a spot on the Team USA Collegiate National Team, making him the first Bearkat in school history to achieve the honor, and the first Southland Conference player since Michael Choice (UT Arlington) in 2009 to do so. Cowser was also named to the D1Baseball.com Freshman All-American First Team, Baseball America Freshman All-American Second Team, Perfect Game Freshman All-American Second Team, ABCA/Rawlings All-Central Region Second Team, and earned Freshman All-American honors from Collegiate Baseball Magazine.
A native of Cypress, Texas, Cowser led Cy Ranch High School to a 32-9-2 record and a berth in the Class 6A state tournament as a senior in 2018. That same year, he was named Class 6A First Team All-State, First Team All-District 17-6A, and Perfect Game/Rawlings Sports All-Texas Region Team.
Cowser becomes the fourth outfielder selected by the Orioles in the first round of the MLB Draft since 2000, and the second-straight after taking Heston Kjerstad (No. 2 overall) last season. Cowser is the third player the Orioles have selected from Sam Houston State since 2018, joining catcher Jordan Cannon (2019) and infielder Drew Fregia (2018). The Orioles have had the number five overall selection twice before in club history: in 2007, when they selected catcher Matt Wieters out of Georgia Tech University, and in 2009, when they selected right-hander Matt Hobgood from Norco (CA) High School. It is the first time the Orioles have had picks in the top five in three-straight years since 2010-12.
The 2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft continues tonight with the completion of Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A. The Draft will continue Monday, July 12, with round 2 on MLB Network and rounds Competitive Balance Round B through 10 on MLB.com, beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET, and conclude on Tuesday, July 13, on MLB.com with rounds 11-20 starting at 12:00 p.m.