Delmarva catcher Jordan Cannon developed a tight bond with Colton Cowser as teammates at Sam Houston State.
From playing baseball to bass fishing, they were close friends even though Cannon was a senior and Cowser was a freshman.
The two are now reunited in the Orioles’ organization.
Cowser was selected with the fifth overall pick in this year’s Major League Baseball draft. Cannon was selected by the Orioles in the 10th round of the 2019 draft.
“It’s going to be really cool,” Cannon told BaltimoreBaseball.com. “Me and him have talked every single day since I left Sam Houston. So for us to be in the same dugout again and in the same uniform is going to be pretty awesome.”
Cowser, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound centerfielder, hit .354 with 24 home runs and a 1.068 OPS from the left side of the plate in three seasons at Sam Houston State. Cowser was rated the No. 7 draft prospect by FanGraphs, No. 10 by ESPN and MLB.com, and No. 11 by Baseball America. He signed for a reported $4.9 million.
“It’s just kind of how I was raised to play the game,” Cowser told the Baltimore media on Friday. “I’m kind of an old-school player, be able to contribute on both sides of the ball. Say you are not having a great day at the plate, but you go out on the field and take away some [hits with] outs. There are always ways to contribute to the game of baseball.”
This past season as a junior, Cowser, 21, was named the Southland Conference Player of the Year, becoming the second player in Sam Houston history to earn the honor. He also earned All-SLC First Team, SLC All-Defensive Team, and SLC All-Tournament team honors, leading Sam Houston to the SLC title game. Cowser became the first player in program history to be named a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award.
“He showed up a really good hitter,” Cannon said. “You can tell he’s always a kid that has confidence, but it was never arrogance. I took him under my wing not because he was a great baseball player and a freshman, but because he was an even better guy. Me and him have probably been best friends since his first day on campus. He does all the right things — crosses the T’s and dots his I’s — takes care of his business off the field.”
Cannon followed Cowser’s career at Sam Houston State after he was drafted by the Orioles. But their relationship stretches beyond the baseball diamond. They have an affinity for bass fishing. Cowser was comfortable hanging around Cannon and his roommates even though he was several years younger.
“We both liked to fish a lot and there was always something going on in our apartment,” Cannon said. “Colton was always there hanging out with me. I had a couple of roommates who wound up playing pro ball. It was good for Colton to be around guys that were older than him. From a growing-up standpoint, you want to be around guys that have been around the block a few times.”
Cowser is considered a natural centerfielder and that’s where he is likely to begin playing in the minors. The Orioles have Cedric Mullins in center field, and he is having a breakout year, earning a spot as the starting centerfielder for the American League in the All-Star Game.
In 2019, Cowser led the 2019 Collegiate National Team in runs with nine. He was also named MVP of the Cuba series after leading the team in batting (.438) and runs (6) and tying for the team-lead in hits (7) during the five-game series. Cowser started eight of 14 games in right field.
Cannon knew that Cowser would be drafted.
“I knew he was going to be a high pick, but I never thought he’d be a No. 5 pick,” Cannon said. “When I first started playing with him, I knew this guy was going to go high. A few draft boards came out and he was going to be a first-rounder. He was going to be a top 14 pick and I was like, ‘Holy Cow.’ Looking back, you could see it. Just as a freshman there was never an arm that someone on the other team ran out there and beat him up. Never.”
Cowser will attempt to make the transition from a talented college player to a productive professional.
“He has the ability to handle the big moment,” Cannon said. “He’s always been good at the big moment. You could run Texas A&M out there, a Friday night guy, and Colton is cool, calm and collected. There’s no crowd too big. No arm, too much stuff. He might get beat sometimes, but it’s never, ‘Man, that guy was way better than him.’ Tip your hat and he’ll be back in 30 minutes.”
Cannon is excited to have another talented player join the Orioles ‘organization. General manager Mike Elias has laid the groundwork for what he hopes is one of the best minor-league systems in baseball. He hopes that many of these young players will get their chance to play at Camden Yards over the next few years.
“It’s very exciting, all across the Orioles’ board,” Cannon said. “It’s pretty cool to watch and see kind of the turning the page in the organization. It’s really the Orioles getting their kind of guys. It’s fun to watch and be around every day.”
As for Cannon, he is still nursing a hamstring injury from earlier this month against Lynchburg. He heard a pop as he was running for first base and then had trouble walking.
Cannon hopes to get back on the field in the coming weeks. He is batting .223/.326/.393 with five homers and 22 RBIs in 31 games for the Shorebirds.
“I eased off the side of the field, kind of like an airplane running out of gas,” Cannon said. “It’s slowly getting better. I’m about three weeks in rehab. Slowly taking my time, don’t want to rush it and re-injure it.”
Short start: Grayson Rodriguez lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and four runs with two walks and five strikeouts in a 6-5 victory over the Hartford Yard Goats on Saturday night. Nick Vespi, Ofelky Peralta, and Tim Naughton finished the game from the bullpen, combining to allow just one hit and an unearned run. Rodriguez is 7-1 with a 2.37 ERA in 14 starts.
Heating up: Delmarva outfielder Cristopher Cespedes has hit .300 with six doubles, six homers and 23 RBIs over a 22-game stretch. He has also had two grand slams and a three-run double.
Rutschman update: Top prospect Adley Rutschman homered from both sides of the plate, doubled and walked with the bases loaded in Bowie’s 20-7 victory over Hartford on July 21st. Rutschman is batting .281/.408/.518 with 15 homers and 48 RBIs in 68 games.
Hard-fought wins: The Norfolk Tides’ pitching staff is on pace for 49 wins, the fewest in franchise history. The lowest win total since joining the Orioles’ organization in 2007 is 56 in 2011 (56-87)