The Winter Meetings are providing opportunities for Orioles prospects to find out what all the commotion is about and sharpen their interview skills with the beat crew.
Shortstop Cadyn Grenier visited the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last December because he lived about 10 minutes away and couldn’t pass up the opportunity, which included an introduction with executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.
Outfielder Kyle Stowers, a California native chosen with the 71st overall pick in the 2019 First-Year Player Draft out of Stanford University, took his turn Wednesday afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego
“It’s been fun,” said Stowers, whose blonde hair and features make it seem as though he arrived on a surfboard. “It’s a lot of people. I didn’t realize how many people would be here. But it’s cool. It’s a good experience.”
Stowers appeared in 55 games with short-season Single-A Aberdeen and batted .216/.289/.377 with 13 doubles, a triple, six home runs and 23 RBIs. He also stole five bases in six attempts.
“A lot of baseball can be tiring, but at the same time it’s a blessing to be able to play the game,” he said. “Beyond that, you show up every day whether you have a good day or a bad day. It’s kind of all the same. You take each good day, each bad day, with a grain of salt and build off it and come to the field the next day with a fresh mind.
“I think that was probably the biggest thing for me is learning from the previous day, but at the same time when you get to the field the next day and you take the notes you needed, from there it’s flushing it and seeing what you can do that day.”
The slash line suggests that Stowers had a disappointing first professional experience after batting .303/.369/.523 in the same number of games as a junior at Stanford.
He respectfully disagrees.
“I wouldn’t say that I was disappointed,” he said. “I think it’s so easy for us, when we have some failures and setbacks, that we go, ‘Well, that didn’t work.’ When in reality it could be the best thing for us.
“My freshman year in college I didn’t play very well at all and it was the best thing for me, all that I learned from it. And how it catapulted me into those next two years was, it wasn’t necessarily that I looked back at my first year as a failure, but as a big stepping stone for what I needed to learn moving forward.”
Stowers was batting .314/.375/.471 on July 13 and closed with hits in six of his last eight games while going 10-for-36. There were pockets of solid production and hard lessons.
Did anything on the professional side surprise him?
“No, not really,” he said. “Obviously the competition is better. You’re playing every day, which is what you sign up for and realize it. I think that for me, learning how to flush things and go into the next day and not allow things to snowball was a little more difficult to do than I thought. But at the same time you need those experiences to learn from.”
Stowers is part of the first draft class with Elias in charge and it could become one of the most important periods in franchise history due its influence in shaping the rebuild. The Orioles made catcher Adley Rutschman the first overall pick and took prep shortstop Gunnar Henderson and Stowers with their next two selections.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Stowers said. “We all have the same goal in mind, right? One day get to the big leagues and even further than that, competing for a World Series. That’s what everyone wants to do and hopefully our class can be a part of something moving forward and a few of us from it can contribute at the big league level sometime down the road.”
“Early on it makes transitioning a lot smoother because you have familiar faces around you, people that don’t just know your personality, but also know a lot about your family and what-not, so that makes it very comfortable,” Stowers said.
“And then I was back with them in the fall at Stanford. We were all taking classes, so we definitely all have a really good relationship and they’re two of my best friends. So it’s just, when things aren’t going so well, you have people who know you really well, which is nice, because you have people that care about you as a person as well as a player.”
Playing in Aberdeen provided Stowers with a front row seat to the Rutschman circus. The catcher attracted a crowd wherever he went, the hype machine missing an off switch.
“It was fun,” Stowers said. “Obviously when traveling and going from hotel to hotel there were all these people waiting for him and trying to get their autographs, so there’s that part of it, which is funny to see. But off the field he’s just a great guy, fun to be around. And then on the field you can learn a lot from him, just the way he goes about his business and also his knowledge about hitting and his approach.
“It’s fun and it’s also beneficial. I feel like I can take stuff away for myself.”
* Former Orioles assistant hitting coach Howie Clark is joining the White Sox’s organization as hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte.
The Orioles informed Clark in October that they wouldn’t renew his contract for the 2020 season. They’re replacing him with José Hernández, who spent the summer as major league coach on manager Brandon Hyde’s staff.
Hernández changes roles after the Orioles hired Fredi González and handed him the title of major league coach.
Clark is replacing Frank Menechino in Charlotte. Menechino was promoted to the role of White Sox hitting coach.
Former Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh is the White Sox’s new assistant hitting coach. He spent the 2019 season as hitting coach at Triple-A Oklahoma in the Dodgers’ system.
Clark was the only holdover from former Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s staff. He was named assistant hitting coach in February 2017 after serving as Single-A Delmarva’s hitting coach in 2015 and Double-A Bowie’s hitting coach the following season.
* Former Orioles third baseman and minor league manager Ryan Minor also has landed on his feet after leaving the organization.
Minor will manage the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League West team in the Tigers’ organization.
The Orioles dismissed Minor in September after Single-A Frederick completed its season. They also parted ways with Keys pitching coach Justin Lord and hitting coach Bobby Rose.
Minor managed Delmarva for seven years and Frederick for three, but he’ll always be known for replacing Cal Ripken Jr. at third base on the night that baseball’s Iron Man voluntarily ended his consecutive games streak on Sept. 20, 1998.
Kyle Moore will manage the Keys in 2020 after guiding Delmarva to the highest full-season winning percentage in the minors at .652.