Reports out of Baltimore indicate that the Orioles are set to promote the team’s top pick from 2021 MLB Draft, Colton Cowser, to the MLB roster. The 23-year-old’s torched AAA pitching this season, and now he’ll look to do the same with the Orioles. Here’s a closer look at Cowser and his toolset.
A Look at Cowser
In what was a bit of a surprise, the Orioles opted to pass on big-name 2021 MLB Draft prospects like Jordan Lawlar and Kumar Rocker two years ago to select Sam Houston State University outfielder Colton Cowser with the fifth overall pick.
Cowser put up strong numbers at Sam Houston State, including in his junior season when he cranked 16 home runs and batted .374 for the Bearkats. And thus far, the move has worked out well for the O’s.
Cowser showcased good bat-to-ball skills in his first three years as a pro, and proficiency at working counts. Across 226 games in the Minors, Cowser’s walked 140 times and owns a career OBP of .431. And as far as power is concerned, the 23-year-old belted 19 home runs and 57 extra base hits in his full season in 2022, and added ten more home runs to his career MiLB total this season.
The 23-year-old outfielder has it all from a tools standpoint at the plate: good vision, natural strength, and he did show a keen ability to drop the barrel right on the ball. Cowser projects to be a top-of-the-order hitter that can get on base consistently and hit 20-25 home runs at the MLB level.
Defensively, Cowser played all three outfield positions but spend most of his career in center. MLB.com‘s scouting report projects him to be an above-average defender with a good arm. And, he does have good foot speed — a tool that’s also helpful on the base paths.
A Look at the Orioles and Fantasy Outlook
I mentioned this a few days ago in Westburg’s write-up, but it’s worth mentioning again. The Orioles simply have an embarrassment of riches, which is certainly not a bad thing. Baltimore is loaded with young infielders like Jackson Holliday, Gunnar Henderson, and the aforementioned Westburg. And in the outfield, the O’s are set to introduce both Cowser and Heston Kjerstad to the Majors — provided Baltimore doesn’t move one of the two in the near future.
As far as the O’s outfield is concerned, Baltimore might have the most underrated trio of outfielders in the league in Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, and Cedric Mullins. Mullins owns an impressive blend of power and speed, while the power-hitting Santander owns a 124 OPS+ on the season. Hays, meanwhile, owns a .312 average this season and is in contention for an AL batting title.
Both Hays and Mullins are under team-control through the end of 2025, while Santander could become a free agent after next season. The road towards a starting job in the O’s outfield is a bit clogged, but Cowser should still see regular time in the Majors. The O’s can always rotate Hays, Mullins, or Santander in the DH slot, or pencil in the latter at first. Santander’s played five games (4 GS) at first in 2023.
Let’s quickly touch on Cowser’s fantasy outlook. The 23-year-old came up at a good time given the injuries to Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez, and most recently, Angels OF Mike Trout. Cowser does possess a good blend of speed and power himself, and should get regular playing time. He’s worth a look for those in need of an outfielder.