Daily Prospect Profile: John Bowker

Bowker has a .302 average in Indianapolis this year.

So maybe the word “prospect” in the Daily Prospect Profile today is a little generous.  John Bowker isn’t a prospect.  Not technically, since he’s got over 500 at-bats in the majors.  Not literally, since he’s 27 years old, and has a .237 average and a .679 OPS in those major league at-bats.  But I felt the need to highlight Bowker today for two reasons.

The first reason is his performance.  Since being outrighted off the 40-man roster, and sent to AAA Indianapolis, Bowker has hit for a .302/.353/.482 line in 222 at-bats, with eight homers.  He’s been on fire in June and July in the power department, with six homers in 137 at-bats, and ten doubles.  He still has his platoon splits, with a .693 OPS against left handers, and an .897 OPS against right handers.

The second reason is to point out that AAA success doesn’t guarantee major league success.  This is nothing new for Bowker.  He had success in AAA before.  He had that success in 2009, and then again in 2010.  He had success in the PCL, which is known to inflate hitters numbers, but he carried that success over to the International League in 2010, after being acquired for Javier Lopez.  Yet Bowker hasn’t seen his power translate over to the majors.  He hasn’t seen his hitting translate to the highest level.  At best, he looks like a power bat off the bench, or a platoon player, but both would require him to actually hit for power in the majors.

I bring this up because of the hype surrounding Matt Hague.  Hague is on fire this year in AAA, especially in the last two months.  He hit three doubles last night, putting his season total at 24, including 16 in June and July.  He’s got a .324/.380/.482 line in 330 at-bats this season.  He hit for a .402 average in 107 at-bats in June, with a 1.094 OPS.  I’ll have more on Hague later today, but I wanted to use Bowker to illustrate a point: just because a player is having success in AAA, doesn’t mean he’s going to have the same success in the majors.

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I’ve heard Giant fans comment how Bowker teased them for years and couldn’t produce when the time would come. I don’t see anyone on the roster that makes me wish Bowker was there instead of them. He’s still not the first outfielder I’d recall from Indy and that’s after Presley got called up.


I agree with several of the other commenters. Bowker has never been given a fair shot in the majors, and he’s earned it. With their limp offense, how can the Bucs not give this guy a long look? Where do you play him, though? Bucs outfield is solid now, with Presley. Maybe try Bowker at first, but he could be a liability there. And Pearse could be the best choice at first, in combo with Jones. Nice to have all this talent in the system!

Chris M

Those 560 MLB at bats are spread out over 4 years though.  The most at bats he’s gotten in one season was 326 in 2008 when he actually wasn’t too bad.  The Pirates haven’t given him an extended look in MLB like they did Milledge, Andy Laroche, etc.

Chris M

only 87 of his MLB at bats have been with the Pirates.

Lee Young

I wonder if Bowker will be a Sept callup. He was a good ph early in the year.

The Hammer

Sorry typed my comment in the wrong post. Meant to be commenting on Hague

The Hammer

Don’t really agree Tim, particularly with Overbay being hot right now as you mentioned. What would your corresponding roster move be? DFA Lyle, because there isn’t an easy one available with all the other moves that are going to be made.

Matthew Clements

How much time has Bowker actually spend in the majors?  Doesn’t it seem reasonable that he could need some adjustment time to get used major league pitching?  I have a hard time believing that AAA power cannot translate to the majors.  Plus power is the biggest need for the Pirates so I don’t believe they should treat triple AAA displays of power lightly.  Granted Bowker isn’t a great defender and the Pirates have a glut of outfielders right now.  Just would be nice to see if the power is legit.  However, we went through this experience with Brandon Moss and got burned.  Is it more of a talent difference between AAA and the majors or do you think it is a mental block with some of these players?

p.s. love the site, great inside information

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