The Dodgers may have to turn to their farm system to boost their chances of October success. With…
Q&A with Rangers 22nd Round Pick Ben Rowen
The Texas Rangers' 22nd round pick in this week's MLB Draft, Rowen is a rare breed, often drawing comparisons to big league veteran reliever Chad Bradford.
Also a reliever himself, Rowen recently wrapped up a four-year college career, spending two seasons at Los Angeles Harbor College and two at Virginia Tech.
In his first season with the Hokies, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound hurler logged 34.2 innings over 30 appearances, posting a 4-2 record and a 4.67 ERA. He surrendered 47 hits while walking nine and striking out 34.
Rowen spent the summer between his junior and senior seasons with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod League, playing alongside current Rangers prospect Chad Bell. Working as one of the club's late-inning relievers, Rowen had a 2.21 ERA in 36.2 innings, walking 12 and striking out 31.
The 21-year-old took plenty of momentum into his senior campaign at Virginia Tech, and he was a key component of a Hokies team that finished with a 40-22 mark and earned an NCAA Regional berth.
The Southern California native led the Virginia Tech club with six saves and a 2.67 ERA in 38 appearances, spanning 54 innings of work. He was difficult to hit [44 hits], threw strikes [10 walks] and missed bats [63 strikeouts].
Rowen doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he succeeds by throwing strikes and getting ground balls while using a sinker-slider mix from his unique arm angle.
Lone Star Dugout caught up with Rowen after he was drafted on Tuesday afternoon.
Jason Cole: What are your general thoughts on getting selected by the Rangers?
Ben Rowen: I'm very excited. Yesterday when I got the call, my heart was pounding, actually.
Cole: Did you really have any expectations in terms of where you would get selected coming into the draft?
Rowen: I wasn't really expecting anything. 22nd round––I'm very happy with that.
Cole: Did you have much contact with the Rangers leading up to the draft?
Rowen: I had a little bit. We spoke a couple times.
Cole: You're from the Los Angeles area, right?
Rowen: Originally, yes. We just moved to New York right now.
Cole: Being a guy that is originally from Southern California, how did you end up across the country at Virginia Tech?
Rowen: It was kind of interesting. Two summers ago, I was playing summer ball in North Carolina. Coach Turgeon, the pitching coach at Virginia Tech, saw me pitch. He liked the way that I threw submarine, so he picked me up right away.
Cole: What are your thoughts on the season you had at the back-end of the Hokies bullpen this season?
Rowen: It was good that I got to go in and get a lot of appearances. I think I ended up with 38 appearances. Our team did very well. We got to the regionals for the first time in at least 10 years. I think the last time was 2000. It was a breakthrough year, and I couldn't be happier with what we did.
Cole: What was it like, being part of the turnaround of the program there? I know you guys had seven players drafted on Tuesday.
Rowen: Yeah, it was huge to see those kind of numbers with the results. The talent we had on the team was kind of amazing and unique. Having known that this program only had maybe six wins in the ACC three years ago and bringing it into a team that was competing in a tough regional in South Carolina––that's great to do.
Cole: From looking at the numbers, you pretty much improved across the board between your first season there and this year. What was it that allowed you to progress as a pitcher this season?
Rowen: It took a little bit of getting used to the ACC and the competition. Every weekend you're going out there and competing against the best hitters in the country.
Over the summer, I worked hard with my summer coach to perfect my submarine delivery and made sure I got the ball movement that I needed to on every pitch. Every time I went out there this spring, I focused on what I needed to do to get an out for each pitch. That was a huge difference between this year and last year––the focus.
Cole: Tell me about that submarine delivery. When did you pick that up?
Rowen: My high school coach taught me to go from throwing overhand to sidearm and then submarine eventually, when I left high school. I've been throwing submarine all throughout college.
Cole: How long did it take before that was something that was actually comfortable for you?
Rowen: It took awhile. I'd have to say at least six months before I got the control down for every time I threw the ball. It took six months to a year before I was actually comfortable with throwing and getting on the mound and pitching submarine.
Cole: When you were learning it, did you watch a lot of video of other submarine pitchers?
Rowen: Yeah, my coach presented the idea to me by showing me a picture of a submarine pitcher. Then whenever Chad Bradford was on TV, I would stop everything I was doing to watch him. I tried to look up some YouTube videos to just see what I needed to do to be successful.
Cole: If you can, just give me sort of a run-down on you on the mound. What pitches do you throw and what kind of pitcher are you?
Rowen: As a relief pitcher, I only have two solid pitches, and I'm working on a changeup. I throw a fastball and a slider––it's kind of like a frisbee slider. I guess if you had to describe it, it doesn't do any north-south moving––it moves east-to-west, away from a right-handed hitter.
My fastball has a hump in it. It starts from my hand, goes up, and then down, and I get a lot of ground balls with my fastball that way. My changeup––there's a little bit of speed difference and it's mostly there just to keep hitters off-balance. I really only use two or three pitches every time I go out there.
Cole: Is the changeup something you really look to bring along as you get into pro ball?
Rowen: Absolutely. That's one thing that I've been looking for the last few years––somebody that can help me develop that changeup from the submarine angle, which I've always heard is a difficult thing to master. I'm looking forward to doing that.
Cole: How difficult are mechanics from the submarine angle? What sort of challenges face you mechanically?
Rowen: At first, getting used to throwing underhand––it was pretty difficult. But four years into it, it's pretty much my natural motion. Whereas everybody else is throwing overhand every time they pick up a ball, I pretty much go to my natural submarine motion.
Cole: You were a senior this past season. Are you planning on signing pretty soon?
Rowen: Yeah. We haven't spoken specifics yet. They're pretty much finishing up the draft today, so I know they're pretty busy. We're going to keep in touch the next couple days and figure out what's going to happen from here on out.
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