Although it is only half way through the season, do you still feel the same
about John Bowker's performance? We all know about Dodd stadium, and with that
in consideration, his numbers so far this season are quite impressive. Do you
still feel the same way as you did in feb, or do you think he could be a
considerable prospect in the upcoming years?
Since that post is almost 5 months old, I thought I would post my answer here - thanks for the comment, Anon.
He is having a great first half for AA Connecticut, batting .303/.347/.523/.870, with 12 homers in 304 AB, or 25 AB/HR. He could even be better right now, at home he's hitting .269/.318/.423/.741 while on the road he's hitting .338/.379/.628/1.007. As I showed in a previous post, power in Dodd Stadium is greatly reduced relative to the overall league. And his power is similarly diminished by Dodd, at home 52.0 AB/HR whereas on the road, 16.4 AB/HR (that is like going from Edgardo Alfonzo power when he was a Giant to Barry Bonds power during the late 1990's); same for ISO, 154 at home, 290 on the road. Plus he has gotten better each month, improving his walks and HRs each month this season. So those are all very encouraging.
His age is a plus and a minus. He just turned 24, so that's still young, he could be in AAA next year at 25 and the majors at 26 in 2009. However, frankly that's a little on the old side for AA, so it could be that is why he's doing so well, because of the age advantage for him over most of the other players.
Why his sudden surge is suspect: his career up to this season has been on a steep dive. He had a really nice professional debut in 2004, but his 2005 and particularly his 2006, where he spent all his time in Advanced A San Jose, really took the bloom off his rose. He struck out too much and walked too little during his time there and his power went down in his second year there and overall his performance there was pretty sad for a hitters league. That's a lot of disappointing results.
So I was surprised that they promoted him to AA; however, looking back at his stats, I suppose he earned it with his nice second half surgette, hitting over .300 with around a .830-.840 OPS and better BB/K ratio. But until this year, he was like a Travis Ishikawa without the homers, walks, or defense; in other words, nothing much to recommend him by.
I will be more encouraged about him when and if he duplicated this (and more) in AAA Fresno. While his overall stats look good, and look even better when viewing his road stats, the negatives are his still low BB/K ratio, you ideally want over 1.0 for that and a minimum of 0.5 but he's at 0.36 for the season and approximately that for both home and away (same as for 2006 as well, which was 0.37). His walk rate is still a bit anemic at 6.3% (7.4% last season) and again basically the same home and away. His strikeout rate is significantly improved, which probably led to his surge, he dropped it from 21.6% to 18.5%. Ideally, you want it under 15%, so he's getting close to the target there, and under 20% is considered good.
But some players are able to play in the majors with poor peripherals like that, and perhaps he can be one of those. However, not only will it be hard for him to make the majors on any team in any regular situation, but with Lewis, Schierholtz, Ortmeier, and EME ahead of him, he has all these similarly young players ahead of him plus Roberts and Winn ahead of him for the next two seasons, 2008 and 2009. If he's making the majors, it is probably not until 2010, though maybe he could be a September call-up in 2009. And by then, there is the possibility that Villalona will have eaten his way off of 3B and into the corner OF (or perhaps 1B), which would be another obstacle for him. And Villalona said that he wants to make the majors in two seasons (which to me means 2009).
The road will be long, and it will be hard, but at least now it seems like it is possible. Before, Bowker didn't have much of a prayer, being stuck in A-ball in San Jose for two years and declining overall. I wish him continued good luck on his performance, particularly since it appears that he will need it, sabermetrically speaking. However, as I noted, not every successful baseball player has to have great peripherals - the odds are just longer when you don't have those qualities.