Written by: Jake Tweedie
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One of my underrated bats of the 2020 Draft comes in the form of Harvard-Westlake Shortstop Drew Bowser. When you think of Harvard-Westlake and this year’s Draft, most people think of potential first rounder Pete Crow-Armstrong.
Although they are both completely different players, the friendly competition they have makes them extremely close and helps them bounce off each other on and off the field.
Crow-Armstrong has been well-documented and in most mock drafts that can be seen online, whilst Bowser hasn’t. This is what makes me want to delve into him a bit more and showcase him as the high second rounder that he deserves to be.
Drew Bowser SS – Harvard-Westlake – 18 years old – 6’4 205lbs
Tall, projectable build, who can generate great power with his bat. I’m extremely impressed by his defensive capabilities and his power potential.
Hit: 35/50 (Present/Future)
Although his mechanics allow him to hit the ball with authority, his bat speed is slower at the beginning than most and this makes his hitting tool less advanced than his power.
However, he has adapted his swing in the past couple of years. He was being struck out more on the inside of the strike zone, so he tightened up his swing in order to increase his hitting capabilities. As seen by the GIF above, his swing is a lot closer to his body, which allows cleaner contact towards the inside of the strike zone.
2019 was a successful season for him, averaging .386, with 2 HRs and 28 RBIs for Harvard-Westlake. There were question marks over his hitting in the 18u WBSC, where he averaged just .222 with 1 RBI, as he looked like a player who sacrificed hits for trying to go long regularly.
Although there was a slight dip in an impressive 2019 season, this shouldn’t take away from the fact his hitting ability improved significantly.
This video is a perfect example of his potential when he’s hitting the ball consistently. He has the ability to strike the ball beautifully, barreling the ball well and creating some serious loft. He seems to have a knack of pulling the ball effectively, finding the outfield on that side and driving home players on the bases.
If he can focus on consistently hitting the ball, rather than just going for pure power, then his future value can rise. He is a 35 grade with his current ability, but with the right guidance and focus on making his bat speed quicker and more dynamic, then he has the tools to increase this.
Power: 40/65 (Present/Future)
His timing when he builds up momentum is very good. He finds the sweet spot regularly and this enables the ball to pop off the bat with extreme amounts of pace. His exit velocity of 100mph in the PG National Showcase was well above the 83mph average, as well as the 84mph maximum barrel speed, which was well above the 66.75mph average.
His short swing generates a lot of power, alongside his loose hands and great extension. However, if he could use his lower body more effectively then he could reach his maximum potential.
The lower body movement is limited, thus not allowing him to put even more force through his swing. If he can tap into this when moving forward, then there is some serious potential that could allow him to reach 20-25 HRs a season.
His power is one of his best tools offensively. I graded him 45 due to his ability to time the ball effectively and find the sweet spot on a consistent basis. This was supported by winning the All-American HR Derby in 2019, and followed the next night with a long double that hit the wall. This was particularly impressive as an 82mph breaking ball left his bat at 99.9mph.
In order to tap into his true power potential, he will have to work on his hitting tool and try and utilise his lower body better. This potential makes him one of the best power hitters in the 2020 Draft.
Speed: 40/35 (Present/Future)
Speed is definitely one of his weakest areas. Although he has the quick feet and movement to be impressive defensively, his speed could cost him offensively and may warrant the call for him to move to 3B from SS.
Although his 60 yard dash speed (7.22) was slightly better than the average (7.26), his 10 yard split (1.87) was slower than average (1.71). This shows that with some room he can pick up pace, but the shorter distance sprints he struggles with.
He will never be a player that picks up stolen bases, but with the power he has it definitely makes up for this. Due to his height and build he is unlikely to be able to get faster, and although he is rangy it would work out better that he shifts to corner infielder. The projection of his build being stronger and more athletic will also add to his slight decrease in speed.
40 grade speed and likely to drop a tad once his body fills out, is his weakest area. That is unlikely to change, but his other tools make up for that and some.
Arm: 55/60 (Present/Future)
His solid arm strength is one of the reasons why he is so highly regarded defensively. His strength can only grow as he develops and this will correlate with his batting power.
He has a nice easy release and carry. Utilizing his strength to his advantage he generates great power when throwing that makes him perfect as a corner infielder. His quick hands and easy pick-ups will be extremely useful when picking off runners at first and second. This linked to his quick feet and movement from a standing position defensively makes him an above average defender.
If he can work on his lower body movement when batting, he can adapt this to enable him to be even more deadly throwing from 3B. His grade of 55 is impressive as it is, but if he can continue to develop and grow then he has every chance of being a 60 in the future.
Fielding: 55/65 (Present/Future)
By far his strongest tool, he uses long range and athletic body to get down well and break up plays. His movement is very good and, for his size, he is extremely nimble.
Although this allows him to be a very good shortstop, his future definitely seems to be at 3B. His solid arm strength and soft hands make him a big draw as a corner infielder. He also has a quick release when he receives the ball and does so effectively.
The adjustment from SS to 3B may take some time when it comes to pro ball, but with the right guidance he is bound to adapt and be a solid defender for any franchise.
His grade of 55 is very high for a High School player, but he shows extreme athleticism and ease when defending the ball. He also has the potential to be one of the best defenders in his position, as supported by his MLB Comparison.
MLB Comparison – Manny Machado
Now this can come across as a big statement, a player that has a $300m contract over 10 years, but if we look at his physicality and his ability to hit the ball with power the similarities are there.
Standing at 6’3 Machado is a similar height, and with Bowser’s projection, he should match him for build also.
As seen by one of Machado’s earliest Major League hits, he has the slow wind-up at the top of his swing before quickly striking the ball far with minimal effort. Although Machado has more speed between bases, his hitting mechanics and his ability to hit 30 HRs a year is similar to what Bowser is capable of.
Another aspect of his game that strikes resemblance is his defensive side. Machado has shifted between SS and 3B throughout his career, and his defensive highlights show his range and quick release. Take a look below.
It’s a long video but there are different aspects of his defensive game which Bowser could match if he reaches his potential. His quick reactions for the bunt, the quick hands to get the runner out at first and his range to make a fine stop are all areas Bowser exceeds in.
This may be a lot of pressure comparing him to one of the highest paid players in the MLB, but technically and mechanically there are many similarities between the two.
Future Value: 55
With his strong defensive tools and ability to strike the ball so well, there is no doubting he has the ceiling to be an integral part of any franchise’s starting roster.
He can certainly be an above average regular, but with the right franchise there is potential to be more than just that. The offensive ability to hit 25-30 homers with an average of .275, and the defensive ability to have a fielding percentage of .970+, with 200+ putouts a season is well within reach for my under-rated bat from the West in this year’s Draft.
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