Orioles' draft pick Colton Cowser now has Mike Elias' number - BaltimoreBaseball.com

2021 MLB Draft

Orioles’ draft pick Colton Cowser now has Mike Elias’ number

Colton Cowser
Photo credit: Steve Cockey

Mike Elias knew about Colton Cowser when he was scouting for the Houston Astros. Cowser was playing top-level high school baseball in Cypress, Texas, about 30 miles from Houston.

“He was young and skinny and not really a pro guy coming out of high school even though he was all-state as a hitter,” Elias said. “Then went to college and filled out a little bit and then started raking.”

Elias, the Orioles’ executive vice president/general manager, was excited about drafting Cowser, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior from Sam Houston State University with the fifth overall pick in Sunday’s first round of the Major League Baseball draft.

“He’s gotten to this point with a lot of hard work, and he’s got a lot of projection ahead of him, still,” Elias said. “This isn’t a totally finished product.”

Cowser was at a draft party with his high school teammate, Ty Madden, a pitcher who was picked 32nd overall by the Detroit Tigers from the University of Texas.

He said he’s known since spring that the Orioles were interested in him.

“I actually went up to Baltimore for a workout, and that’s where I figured they were kind of serious,” Cowser said.

His adviser told him about five minutes before the selection that the Orioles would pick him. Elias called him, but Cowser didn’t recognize the number and ignored the call.

“I was told not to answer if I didn’t have the number,” Cowser said. “It ended up being him, so I gave him a call right back.”


Cowser was taken ahead of some more publicized players, including high school shortstops Jordan Lawler, Brady House and Kahlil Watson, and Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rocker.

“I’m not surprised,” Cowser said about being picked fifth. “Not saying that arrogantly. When the MLB draft plays out, you never know what’s going to happen.”

The slot value for the fifth pick is $6.18 million, and the industry perception is that Cowser will be signed for less than that to allow the Orioles to spend their bonus allotment on other players.

“Whatever we end up signing him for, we’ll sign him for,” Elias said. “Obviously, from the club side, you want to preserve as much capital for the rest of the draft as possible, but you take the guy you want to take, and that’s what we did here. This was our player at five, and that’s the most important thing for our draft and the way we approach it wherever I’ve been.

“You do work your bonus pool in this day and age, and that’s what happens.”

Elias is eager to see Cowser play. He has until July 31st to sign a professional contract and get some time in the minor leagues.

“They develop players really well, and I definitely think the whole front office and scouting department is doing a really great job,” Cowser said. “I’m really excited they see me as a good piece for the organization.”

Cowser shared the moment with his family, Madden and high school and college teammates.

“This is a dream come true,” Cowser said. “My family’s invested a lot in me. They sacrificed a lot of time.”

The Orioles have Cedric Mullins, an All-Star centerfielder, and Elias thinks Cowser is a special talent.

“He’s a centerfielder, and we’ll send him out as a centerfielder this summer, and he projects to stay in center field,” Elias said.

“Obviously, we have a really good centerfielder on our team right now, but the beauty of that position and any up-the-middle position is you can slide around if needed. You can’t have too many centerfielders. He’s a great defensive player in all three outfield spots.”

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. CalsPals

    July 12, 2021 at 7:55 am

    Drama in CF, our most stable position, can’t wait to see him in orange & black as well as all the other players the O’s do such a great job developing…go O’s…

  2. Tileman

    July 12, 2021 at 8:23 am

    Our minor league system hasn’t been this rich for decades. Elias will have his time in the Sun especially once the Latin American players start hitting our radar. The future is bright…. You just have to look for it

  3. Orioles20

    July 12, 2021 at 8:37 am

    I’m sure people will complain about not taking a high school shortstop but they fell for reasons we don’t know. I imagine signability was a big reason. A lot of them had big time commitments to premier college baseball programs. There is still some good talent on the board for Elias to take. Cowser in my opinion is a great fit for Camden Yards.

  4. Orial

    July 12, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Im satisfied(I guess) with the pick but was really yearning for Lawlar. MLB Network comped Cowser to Jim Eisenreich and Lawlar to (Carlos Correa). Nuff said on that point. So now they have money to “overpay” for a 2nd/3rd rounder. Don’t get it but so be it. Agree time to zero in on pitching.

  5. Triandos 11

    July 12, 2021 at 9:40 am

    I thought there were better picks available but it seems like about a 2 million dollar swing by picking Cowser. He seems to do everything good instead of great, as others are supposed to be. It is always a crisp shoot do you never know. I thought the Red Sox and Mets made the best picks along with Miami. There did seem to be great pitchers available and hoping the Orioles go that root in later draft along with a shortstop. Orioles seem to need a second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman on the team right now,and don’t hear much about who they have down there beside maybe Jones. So I guess us average fans are a bit confused at times with some of our selections at the top. They did good last year with the first pick no doubt so maybe it is best to leave it to the experts. Then again to me the “experts” on the Angels blew their pick from what I hear and see for a team in need of starting pitching.The big thing with picking the highly rated guys is if they do pan out as projected they won’t be around that long with one team, ala Manny Machado.

    • johninbethany

      July 12, 2021 at 10:12 am

      “they did good last year with the first pick”???? You must be talking about 2019 because the pick from last year, Kjerstad, has yet to put on a uniform because of myocarditis.

      Let’s hope that this years pick works out better..

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 10:22 am

      Totally agree John…go O’s…

    • Catman

      July 12, 2021 at 3:02 pm

      Their future SS and 3B are currently playing together at Aberdeen and will be here at the end of next season. Mark it down.

  6. johninbethany

    July 12, 2021 at 10:07 am

    Rich, it seems that Elias likes to pick players under slot. He has done it the past two years now.

    How many other teams so this? Or are the Orioles just being cheap?

    • OhMy!

      July 12, 2021 at 11:37 am

      Under slotting is not a being cheap strategy, the Os still spent all of their allotted draft money in the 2020 draft and will also spend all of their allotted draft money in 2021.

  7. Baltimore Castaway

    July 12, 2021 at 10:10 am

    Like other posters on your site Rich, I was hoping for a Lawler-type SS. But, here’s the deal; Elias and Sig have forgotten more than most of us know about evaluating Baseball Talent–that also includes what I call the “Baseball Punditry’ at places like ESPN, Baseball America, Yahoo, Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, etc.

    The Orioles still need a helluva LOT MORE talent in their Minor League System. If you look at their Top 30 Prospects it becomes very clear on this –their Top 10 are very promising, the other 20 aren’t very inspiring at all. It points up just how much work Elias et al still have in front of them.

    I am very confident that this group will ultimately succeed in this daunting task..

  8. Bman

    July 12, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Elias said they will be very aggressive the rest of the draft. I hope so! They next five picks will be telling if the under slot strategy was worth it or not. Some good takent out there. Red Sox got a coupe unfortunately. So did MIA, and Det cleaning up. Os need to make a splash in day two big time.

  9. Triandos 11

    July 12, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Sorry, meant ‘19. Lol

    • OhMy!

      July 12, 2021 at 11:47 am

      ’20 may still turn out to be a very good draft. Kjerstad could get healthy and be a good MLB hitter. Westburg has a 0.842 OPS at A+ level. Haskin is doing okay at A level. Servideo was doing well at A level before going on IL. Coby Mayo has a great name and is raking so far a rookie level. Baumler underwent TJ surgery in Nov 20, but look at Tyler Wells post TJ surgery and hope for the best.

      Don’t give it to the negative peer pressure on the comment board!!!

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 12:09 pm

      Tri, thought that’s what you meant…go O’s…

  10. OhMy!

    July 12, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Cowser was a very good pick and under slotting is an excellent strategy IMO. I don’t care for some of Elias’ personal characteristics but he and his FO folks seem to be building a great “talent pipeline”. Good things will be coming at the MLB level if not next year definitely by 2023.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      July 12, 2021 at 12:43 pm

      I agree with that statement Dick. There is no denying that he’s setting up what appears to be a promising future, and hopefully, a sustainable system.

      How about more comments like that from you rather than simply attacking us (we?) idiots?

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      :)…go O’s…

  11. Boog Robinson Robinson

    July 12, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    Cowser has Elias’ phone number? Too bad a few of us fans don’t.

    No Coke … Pepsi

    • Buzz1979

      July 12, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      Bowzer “Glad to have yahs on our show tonight!”

    • CalsPals

      July 12, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Actually Boog, I think many of us have his number…lmao…go O’s…

    • jimpalmer65

      July 12, 2021 at 5:16 pm

      Agree No Coke… Mt. Dew

  12. willmiranda

    July 12, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    A couple thoughts. Since only about one drafted player in ten even makes it to The Show, we shouldn’t be expecting all of our
    draft choices to become stars or even regulars. Second, If you’re going to pursue an underslotting strategy, why worry about getting
    a very high draft position? You can get the guy you want in his regular slot for the same price.

    • Hallbe62

      July 12, 2021 at 2:23 pm

      More or less…yes, you are correct

  13. Birdman

    July 12, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    O’s did not draft a pitcher until Round 5 … I certainly defer to Elias’ judgement evaluating talent, but am left wondering exactly who is going to pitch for this franchise over the next several years … I know they have some excellent prospects in the minor league system now (Rodriguez, Hall, etc.), but as we know, there’s no assurance that minor league success will translate to the major league level … and it’s a safe bet that ownership isn’t going to make significant investments for MLB free agents, so are we just left hoping that the current crop of guys who look so bad at this point, Kremer, Akin, Eshelman, etc, have a miraculous turnarounds?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      July 12, 2021 at 4:25 pm


      It has become a head-scratcher to me…

      I trust Elias, but it would make things a lot easier if we understood his thinking at some point along the way…

      Almost makes me think that he has some trades lined-up for some pitching later this month and/or that they have some talented International Pitching coming their way at the end of this year..

      He is too smart to ignore this area of need. It will otherwise sabotage everything that he is trying to accomplish.

    • CalsPals

      July 13, 2021 at 8:01 am

      Exactly…go O’s…

  14. Mikepete73

    July 14, 2021 at 9:24 pm

    so they took cowser and it was suppose to be under slot to gave money later but they never drafted anybody who will demand more money then slot like last year with mayo and baumler. I don’t understand this pick at all

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