If you look at Kyle Stowers’ stat line in his first professional baseball season, you might think it was disappointing. Stowers, who was the 71st overall pick in the competitive balance segment of the second round in 2019, hit .216 in 55 games for Short Season Aberdeen with a .667 OPS.
Stowers hit six home runs and drove in 23 runs for the IronBirds. He played all three outfield positions.
On January 22, Stowers will turn 22, and he signed with the Orioles after he completed his junior season at Stanford.
At last week’s Winter Meetings, Stowers talked about his 2019 season.
“A lot of baseball can be tiring,” said Stowers, who’s from suburban San Diego. “But it’s a blessing to be able to play the game. Beyond that, you have to show 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 day with a grain of salt and build off of it and come to the field the next day with a fresh mind.
“The biggest thing for me was learning from the previous day, but at the same time, when you get to the field the next day, you take the notes you needed. From there, it’s flushing it, and seeing what you can do the next day.”
Stowers is philosophical about 2019.
“I wouldn’t say I was disappointed,” Stowers said. “It’s easy for us when we have some failures or some setbacks to go, ‘that didn’t work.’ In reality, it could be the best thing for us. My freshman year in college, I didn’t play very well at all. It was the best thing for me. All that I learned from it, how it catapulted me into those next two years.”
Stowers was just 4-for-39 (.108) as a freshman but rebounded as a sophomore and hit .286 with an .892 OPS and received an invitation to play in the Cape Cod League over the summer.
“It wasn’t necessarily I looked back on my freshman year as a failure, but as a steppingstone for what I needed to learn moving forward.”
Stowers was one of three Stanford players chosen in June by the Orioles with their first 12 picks. Catcher Maverick Handley (sixth round) and first baseman Andrew Daschbach (11th round) played with Stowers on Aberdeen last summer.
“The competition is better,” Stowers said. “You’re playing better every day, which is what you sign up for and you realize it. Learning how to flush things, 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 them.”
Stowers was part of the first draft class of the Orioles’ new regime.
“It’s definitely exciting,” he said. “We all have the same goal in mind: one day get to the big leagues and further than that, competing for a World Series. That’s what everyone wants to do, and hopefully our class will 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.”
Playing with Handley and Daschbach was helpful.
“Early on, it makes transitioning a lot smoother because you have familiar faces around you,” Stowers said. “People that [not only] know your personality, they know a lot about your family. That makes it very comfortable.”
The trio returned to Stanford to take classes after the season.
“They’re two of my best friends,” Stowers said. “When things aren’t going so well, you have people who know you really well, which is nice because you have people who care about you as a person as well as a player.”
Stowers enjoyed training at Stanford, which has long been one of the best baseball programs in the country as well as one of the top academic institutions. He’s two quarters short of a degree in communications.
“You’re surrounded by people who are pushing you to be better in all facets of your life,” Stowers said. “For me, going to Stanford was absolutely a baseball decision … Any decision I make in the offseason if it’s not bettering me ultimately for baseball, then I won’t do it.”
For three years, Stowers played against the overall No. 1 draft choice, Adley Rutschman, who played at Oregon State. For a month, Rutschman played with Stowers on the IronBirds before being promoted to Single-A Delmarva.
“When we were traveling and going from hotel to hotel, there were all these people waiting for him,” Stowers said. “Trying to get their autographs. There’s that part of it, which is funny to see.
“Off the field, just a great guy, fun to be around, and then on the field, you can learn a lot from him, from the way he goes about his business and [what] he knows about hitting, his approach.”