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Jackson Kowar

From BR Bullpen

Jackson Alexander Kowar

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Jackson Kowar was selected by the Kansas City Royals with the 33rd pick of the 2018 amateur draft, in the supplemental 1st round. The pick was compensation for the Milwaukee Brewers signing Lorenzo Cain, and the Royals also had the next pick in the draft, selecting P Daniel Lynch. Kowar had been drafted previously in 2015, by the Detroit Tigers, but only in the 40th round as he had a strong commitment to attend the University of Florida. He had a very good three years with the Gators, going a combined 25-6 and playing in the College World Series in 2017 and 2018.

As a professional, he began his career with the Lexington Legends of the South Atlantic League in 2018, making 9 starts but pitching just 26 1/3 innings. In 2019, he started the year with the Wilmington Blue Rocks of the Carolina League, before a mid-season promotion to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the Texas League. His combined record was 7-10, 3.52 with 144 strikeouts in 148 1/3 innings; he was a mid-season All-Star with Wilmington. He then was forced to sit out the 2020 season as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the minor leagues. He did spend the year at the Royals' alternate training site, so it was not a complete loss.

He made his major league debut on June 7, 2021, as the Royals' starting pitcher in an 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. He did not make it out of the 1st inning, allowing 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks while uncorking 3 wild pitches, and he was charged with the loss. It had been 15 years since a pitcher threw three wild pitches in their MLB pitching debut, when Chris Mabeus had done it. The only other time it had happened in under one inning was when position player Jimmy McAleer pitched a game in 1901. His poor maiden outing was a sign of things to come as he went 0-6, 11.27 in 9 games, 8 of them starts, logging just 30 1/3 innings, during which he allowed 43 hits and 20 walks while striking out 29 opponents.

Jackson's next two seasons with the Royals were not any more convincing. In 2022, pitching exclusively out of the bullpen, he had no decisions in 7 outings but a 9.77 ERA as he allowed 27 hits and 11 walks in 15 2/3 innings. In 2023, he made 23 appearances as a reliever, with a 2-0 record but an ERA of 6.43. Wildness continued to plague him, as he allowed 20 walks in 28 innings. He also spent time in the minors during those two seasons, with the Omaha Storm Chasers of the International League, but things were just as bad at the lower level: he went 4-10, 6.16 in 2022 and 2-5, 5.96 in 2023. At that point, the Royals gave up on him and jumped at the opportunity to trade him for a potentially valuable return: on November 17, 2023, he was sent to the Atlanta Braves in return for Kyle Wright, only one-year removed from a 20-win season in the majors. Wright, himself a first-round pick back in the day, had also struggled badly at times, including in 2023, and was expected to miss all of 2024 after undergoing shoulder surgery, but at least had found some success in the big leagues, something that could not be said of Kowar. He only stayed a Brave for a less than a month, and did not even get a chance to put on the uniform, as on December 3rd, he was traded again, headed this time to the Seattle Mariners as part of a five-player deal. The M's had sent Atlanta OF Jarred Kelenic along with two bad contracts in P Marco Gonzales and 1B Evan White, for a meagre return in Kowar and fellow pitching prospect Cole Phillips. At least, Seattle had a history of success in developing young pitchers, so perhaps thwy would be the ones able to nurture Kowar's undeniable underlying talent.

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