Ben Rowen Scouting Report: Texas Ranger minor league relief pitcher Ben Rowen ranked #25 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Ben Rowen...
Ben Rowen is a 25 year old righthanded submarine-style pitcher who was a 22nd round pick of the Rangers out of Virginia Tech in 2010. If you go to Baseball America's draft database, they don't even have a scouting report on him for the 2010 draft...that's how unheralded he was. They also list his signing information as "not available." Rowen wasn't exactly hyped coming out of college.
However, Rowen has dominated as a reliever since becoming a pro. He put up a 1.09 ERA in 33 innings in Spokane in 2010, his first year as a pro. He then went to low-A Hickory for all of 2011 and put up a 1.98 ERA in 59 innings. In 2012, he spent all of the year in high-A Myrtle Beach, and put up a 1.57 ERA. Rowen attracted the attention of the coaching staff last spring and got a look in some major league games before getting sent down to the minors. And, while splitting the season between AA and AAA, all he did was put up an incredible 0.69 ERA in 65.2 innings. Overall, as a pro, Rowen has a 1.34 ERA in 215 innings.
How has he done it, and why aren't more people talking about him? The same reason is the answer to both questions...he is a submariner who throws his fastball in the low-80s. He doesn't strike many batters out -- 183 Ks in 215 pro innings -- but he also has allowed just 52 walks, and a miniscule 4 home runs. He gets ground balls from his unorthodox delivery, which has served him well in the minors.
However, the knock on Rowen is that major league hitters won't be fooled so easily. There is a suspicion that, if and when he makes it to the bigs, major league hitters will be able to tee off on his 83 mph fastball. And as a result, even though Rowen has dominated in the
majors minors, he's going to have to fight just to get an opportunity in the major leagues, and he's going to have to be good right away in the majors to keep that spot.
Rowen is on the 40 man roster, and so he has a good chance of being called up at some point this season and making his major league debut. He held lefty hitters to a 456 OPS last year, compared to a 436 OPS allowed to righthanders, but he's going to have to prove he can hold his own against lefties in the majors, and isn't going to have the big splits that sidearmers do. Still, he'll probably start the season in AAA, will be on the radar if the Rangers need someone to fill in in the pen, and will have a chance to carve out a lengthy major league career as a bullpen piece.