Orioles select college outfielder Colton Cowser with 5th pick in draft - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2021 MLB Draft

Orioles select college outfielder Colton Cowser with 5th pick in draft

Colton Cowser
Photo credit: AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File

The Orioles selected Sam Houston State University outfielder Colton Cowser with the fifth pick in the Major League Baseball draft on Sunday evening.

Cowser, a 21-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder, hit .374 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs this past season. He walked 42 times, striking out only 32 times, and had a .490 on-base percentage and a 1.170 OPS.

“Colton has been and is one of the best pure hitters in the country since setting foot on campus at Sam Houston,” Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said. “All-American, TeamUSA , year after year and this year put up a superlative line for them showing power, hitting for average, speed, defense. He’s a five-tool player.

“He’s somebody that we project to impact our team and our lineup on both sides of the ball, both offensively and defensively. I think it’s rare to get those type of physical tools and all five of them in a college performer, like we just did.”

Cowser was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year.

In his three-year career, Cowser hit .354 with 24 homers and 112 RBIs with a 1.067 OPS.

Some mock drafts linked University of Louisville catcher Henry Davis with the Orioles, but the Pittsburgh Pirates selected him first overall. Vanderbilt pitcher Jack Leiter was taken by the Texas Rangers with the second pick. Detroit took Oklahoma high school pitcher Jackson Jobe third. California high school shortstop Marcelo Mayer, who many thought would be the first overall pick, fell to the Boston Red Sox with the fourth selection.

“We didn’t know until after Boston completed its pick exactly what we were going to do,” Elias said. “This has been written about, a good draft class, rather bunched up in talent.”

Some of the biggest names the Orioles passed on were Texas high school shortstop Jordan Lawler, who went sixth to Arizona; Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker, selected by the New York Mets with the 10th pick; and Georgia high school shortstop Brady House, who was the 11th pick by Washington.


“Cowser was a guy we were very, very high on, especially as the spring got going,” Elias said. “One thing that’s just really rare with him, especially in today’s game, is the hit-for-average tool, power without striking out. He’s an elite contact hitter. He uses the whole field. He runs, throws and plays center field, and plays it well, and he’s really able to do it all.

“Those types of profiles are hard to find, especially with the certainty that an elite college performer provides. That’s why he was viewed by the industry as a top of the first-round talent. and we pounced on him.”

It’s the second consecutive year the Orioles took a college outfielder. In 2020, they selected Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad with the second overall pick. Kjerstad has yet to play because of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle.

In Elias’ three Orioles drafts, he has taken college players. Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman was the first overall pick in 2019.

“These elite college performers, over and over, are surprisingly good when you look back at past drafts,” Elias said. “You’re amazed that they didn’t go higher sometimes. That has continued to be a lesson of history year after year, and we’re very mindful of that.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB





  1. Johnnypoff

    July 11, 2021 at 7:49 pm

    Another underslot. Hope this strategy works out..

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 11, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    I declare this year’s draft a huge success!

  3. dlgruber1

    July 11, 2021 at 8:13 pm

    I don’t want to confuse anyone, this is NOT a negative comment on the O’s first selection in the draft. I hope he becomes a great player for them. However, here’s hoping they’ll take a pitcher with their next selection tho, and almost every selection after that.

  4. Birdman

    July 11, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    Can he pitch?

  5. Balt mp

    July 11, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    Did anybody watch today’s debacle? You need talent across the board . The only top shortstop taken was by Boston why because Boston can pay way overslot to sign him . The others are going to demand way over slot greatly reducing the Orioles ability to add more talent . Besides your outfield depth is not what you think it is Santander has slipped Diaz is batting a buck seventy five so Mullens and Hayes are it .

  6. CalsPals

    July 11, 2021 at 9:07 pm

    Hopefully this yrs outfield pick can play sometime in the next year…oh well…so much for pitching…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 11, 2021 at 9:37 pm

      Ray, they expect Cowser to play this year, not next year.

    • Buzz1979

      July 11, 2021 at 9:39 pm

      Cowser or Bowser? “Glad to have yahs on our show tonight!”

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 7:44 am

      Rich, so our 5th pick will play this year, but not next year, makes perfect sense…go O’s…

    • Icterus fan

      July 12, 2021 at 10:20 am

      I didn’t realize Cowser would play this year – that’s pretty awesome. I thought he’d be spending years in the minors working his way up through the system.
      Why is he hitting the big show so quickly ? (Not that there’s anything wrong with that)

      I’m feeling a Santander/Stewart trade coming….

  7. Orioles20

    July 11, 2021 at 9:29 pm

    I think they got this right. Cowser raked for team USA against Cuba. The shortstops fell throughout the draft. Cowser is going to rake in Camden Yards. You could’ve taken a shortstop and blown through your pool on one pick. But instead you take Cowser and potentially get more good players.

  8. dlgruber1

    July 11, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    At the risk of irritating some, my Yankee fan friend pointed this out to me while I was ranting about “how cheap Angelos is”.
    He pointed out how much money the O’s have spent over past 5 years, starting with turning Sarasota complex into perhaps the best facility of all MLB teams for spring training, and now the huge commitment they’re undertaking in the DR for their Latin America players. That’s not to mention how much money the analytics staff and equipment must be costing. He thinks that that, combined with all the young talent they’re accumulating will pay big dividends in the next couple years and for a long time afterward. But as I said, he is a Yankee fan so……..

    • willmiranda

      July 12, 2021 at 1:52 pm

      I’m not irritated and am not especially obsessed with Angelos’ spending. However, to the comment of your Yankee friend, I would say that yes, we have a beautiful Sarasota complex and a state-of-the-art colonial compound in the DR, but what good is it to build the world’s most beautiful opera house if all you have is Gong Show singers?

  9. PC in OC

    July 11, 2021 at 10:18 pm

    Just like last year, Not the pick we needed. Elias, Have you heard about this kid from Vanderbilt, his name is Kumar and he is a pitcher and guess what, He is a pretty good. And we R in need of Good Pitching. Can someone tell me, what just happened and why.

    • Cali Orioles

      July 12, 2021 at 2:03 pm

      How do you know what is needed? Are you saying SP because we are suffering at the major league level, how do you pick based on need, actually how do you decide what is needed?

  10. PC in OC

    July 11, 2021 at 10:29 pm

    Boog, We’re you drinking, when you made that statement and Rich, you were kidding right!!! Let’s see, what GOOD PLAYERS, They come up with, Now that they have All That Money Left. I, just don’t see it, happing. Someone else, will beat us to it!!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 11, 2021 at 11:01 pm

      PC …. I’m always drinking … so yes … I guess I was.
      Hic º

  11. Bman

    July 11, 2021 at 10:46 pm

    Nailed it! Now the real fun starts. Who do they target and use that excess cash for over the next several rounds.

  12. app063

    July 11, 2021 at 10:50 pm

    Once again this is all about saving money. Despite what dlgruber1 may say about spending money, the owners are not really interested in improving the overall club. The owners see the pot at the end of the rainbow in moving the ball club. I am sorry to say this club is headed to Nashville in 2 years.

    • Buzz1979

      July 11, 2021 at 11:16 pm

      Grinchelos will be a penny pincher till the day he dies!!!

    • Rc2001

      July 11, 2021 at 11:22 pm

      It’s not saving money if they spend it throughout the rest of the draft… just like last year

    • app063

      July 11, 2021 at 11:34 pm

      I quote others …. It’s tough to grade a draft until after the players get into the league. So, the best way to assess the draft is to assign it with a “meh” as the front office did not go with the player who was deemed better than the rest. Instead, they tried to save money. Typical.

      • Rich Dubroff

        July 11, 2021 at 11:54 pm

        No, it’s to try to get a really good player with the first pick as well as really good players with subsequent picks. If you have $100,000 to improve your house, you can spend $70,000 on the kitchen and have $30,000 to spend on the rest of the house, but if you spend $60,000 on the kitchen, you have $40,000 to spend on the rest of the house. They’re not trying to save money in this instance.

        And, yes, it takes five years to truly evaluate a draft.

    • Rich Dubroff

      July 11, 2021 at 11:51 pm

      I am not a fan of underslotting, which I’m afraid you don’t understand. It’s signing what Elias thinks are better quality players later in the draft. They are given $11,829,300 to send the first 11 picks. They will attempt to sign Cowser for slightly less than the $6.18 million suggested for the pick and use the savings to spend it on high school players who might otherwise go to college. They will spend the $11.8 million. They will just allocate it so that a smaller percentage goes to the first-round pick. They did the same thing last year, and other clubs do it, too.

    • Rc2001

      July 11, 2021 at 11:51 pm

      Except its not saving money? they will most likely spend the rest of it later in the draft. If they don’t use all fo their slot money over the whole draft you can call them cheap. But if they spend the full slot amount on better players later in the draft it’s not saving them any money.

      • jimcarter

        July 12, 2021 at 7:45 am

        Better players typically are available EARLIER in the draft. I don’t care if they spend the whole amount. I’d rather have fewer, quality players than greater numbers of mediocrity.

    • app063

      July 12, 2021 at 12:34 am

      Contrary to your opinion I do “understand” “underslotting”. It is a simple “economic” concept. The problem as I view it, is the team has so many holes / needs they could not fill them with 9 #1 draft picks at each position. This is a time to use the “football” draft philosophy ….. draft the “best” individual available at the time regardless of team need. You can always trade that person down the road and potentially make yourself a better team sooner. Also this approach would placate the current paying customer that you are trying to field a competitive team sooner than sometime in the next century.

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 8:01 am

      JC, agree with what you said, would’ve preferred the highest rated player every time we pick, guess we’ll have to wait a few yrs, hope he plays earlier than our last 1st rd OF pick…go O’s…

  13. PC in OC

    July 12, 2021 at 12:11 am

    I see the writing on the wall and very clearly. I agree 100%, with App063. I not only agree, but I PREDICT, In 2 to 3 Years, It will be “THE NASHVILLE ORIOLES “, I almost will Guarantee It!!

    • 33d St

      July 12, 2021 at 6:17 am

      This situation reminds me so much of the ‘83 Colts that my money is on Indianapolis.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      July 12, 2021 at 6:22 am

      There’s a 0% chance the O’s are moving to Nashville in 2 years. 0%.

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 8:07 am

      Is that Justin Timberlake warming up?…lol..go O’s…

  14. Bman

    July 12, 2021 at 12:38 am

    I hope Cowser can hit major league level pitching. My only concern is lesser competition in his college league. I’m sure they’ve worked through all that in the analytics department. I’m thinking Markakis. I expect Os to bring in some nice picks tomorrow with cash reserves. Let’s repeat Westburg, Mayo, Baumler, except without the injuries.

    • jaygotcha

      July 12, 2021 at 6:46 am

      College players are more so scouted in summer leagues and wood bat leagues. In those leagues, he was facing higher-quality competition. He was also a part of team USA. He has raked everywhere he has played.

  15. 33d St

    July 12, 2021 at 6:16 am

    Really wanted Rocker but at least this kid seems like a legitimate top end prospect in his own right. I do hope we get some SPs who can pitch more than 4 innings some time this decade but those hopes are fading

  16. PC in OC

    July 12, 2021 at 8:10 am

    Barstool, I hope you are right and I’m wrong, but I truly believe in what I said!

  17. millboy

    July 12, 2021 at 9:21 am

    O’s not going anywhere

  18. Cali Orioles

    July 12, 2021 at 12:32 pm

    I’m a fan of the under-slotting strategy. That is if the goal is to maximize getting quality players. We’ll see how this works out

  19. PC in OC

    July 13, 2021 at 12:01 am

    Mill boy, And you to, I hope your right and I’m wrong. But I don’t see it, going any other way. In the last few years,They haven’t shown me anything, that tells me, they want to stay. On the contrary, it’s the other way around. I have a box seat, I go to most of the games and I root like hell for them ( although lately, I haven’t done much rooting. I’m sorry guys
    , that’s, the way I feel. That’s it for me.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top