Reliever Ben Rowen is the latest in a rapidly growing Hokie baseball tradition of sending players to the Major Leagues.
Rowen was called up by the Texas Rangers on June 11 after reliever Tanner Scheppers went on the disabled list with inflammation in his right elbow. He made his official debut on June 15 against the Seattle Mariners pitching a scoreless and hitless inning. Rowen pitched again the next day against the Oakland Athletics allowing two hits and no runs in another scoreless inning. He also recorded his first Major League strikeout.
Rowen's unusual submarine-style delivery has been extremely effective at every level. He was selected in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB Draft by the Rangers and quickly impressed with the Spokane Indians. He posted a 1.09 ERA and struck out 30 batters in 33 innings. In 2011 he moved to Hickory where his workload increased to 59 innings. His 1.98 ERA and 43 strikeouts kept him moving up the ranks to Myrtle Beach in 2012.
That's where he exploded. Rowen had a 1.57 ERA with 19 saves and a perfect 5-0 record in 57.1 innings. He struck out 52 batters and allowed just three walks. Three. Those numbers are incredible and earned him recognition as the 2012 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year.
He was listed as the No. 23 prospect in the Rangers organization in 2013 and in total his minor league ERA is 1.57 in 234.2 innings. He's struck out 197 batters while allowing just 54 walks.
He throws a fastball that tops out in the mid eighties but his delivery coupled with nasty sinking action on that pitch allow him to post obscene numbers like the ones above. The Rangers have had loads of trouble with their bullpen this season and this is the second trip to the DL for Scheppers this year. If Rowen continues to pitch well, it's safe to say he could stick around for the rest of the summer.
Rowen becomes the second former Hokie pitcher on the Rangers roster joining veteran left-hander Joe Saunders.
Saunders has provided a boost since returning to the Texas starting rotation posting a 2.42 ERA in 22.1 innings. He started the win over the Mariners scattering eight hits over six innings and allowing just two runs to set up Rowen's debut. He'd like some more run support and a few more strikeouts, but it's nice to see multiple Hokies on the same MLB roster.