The first people Kyle Stowers celebrated his draft selection with were his Stanford teammates. They’ve kept the party going in Aberdeen.
Stowers, the outfielder the Orioles selected with the 71st overall pick in last month’s draft, was one of three Cardinal players the organization took, along with sixth-rounder Maverick Handley and 11th-rounder Andrew Daschbach. All three are playing for short-season Aberdeen, with Stowers and Handley sharing a host family and rooming together on the road.
“It’s special,” Stowers said while visiting Camden Yards on Tuesday with IronBirds teammates Toby Welk and Connor Gillispie. “With Andrew and Maverick, two of my best friends at school, it’s been a lot of fun to go through this journey with them. Obviously, just knowing them really well, I’m very lucky to have them with me.”
Stowers was informed of his selection from the on-deck circle during a pitching change in one of Stanford’s super regional games. His teammates all started giving him hugs as the crowd, which included his parents, gave him a standing ovation.
“You think of draft day as hearing your name called,” Stowers said. “I didn’t get to hear my name called, but that moment was just as special.”
Stowers, the third player the Orioles took in the draft, is off to a strong start with the IronBirds, ranking second on the team with a .296 average and .444 slugging percentage. He plans to play a key role in the Orioles’ rebuild.
“I think every professional baseball player will tell you that they want to make it to the big leagues and, even more so, win a World Series,” Stowers said. “I think to be a part of something rebuilding or just have the chance to chase that dream or chase the opportunity of helping a team win, you can’t beat that.”
Welk thriving with chip on shoulder
As a product of Division III Penn State Berks, Welk always viewed himself as a longshot to make it into professional baseball.
So visiting Camden Yards on Tuesday was fairly surreal for the Orioles’ 21st-round pick.
“I honestly thought I had no shot to make it here,” Welk said. “I was focusing on school and just being the best I could be in baseball, and it happened to work out.
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“It’s an unreal opportunity. I mean, what, 1% of baseball players even get a chance to get drafted, so to be here and to get honored like this, it’s a blessing.”
Welk hit .483 with 13 home runs his senior year and has continued that success going as the IronBirds’ third baseman, hitting a team-best .359.
“People doubt me, ‘Why’d you pick this kid? Who would take this guy?’ ” Welk said. “That just fires me up even more to keep going and show up to work and beat these guys, the big-time names that think they’re the best, and the supposed little guy gets a hit off of them.”
‘Bulldog’ Gillispie thankful for recognition
Gillispie, a right-handed pitcher the Orioles took in the ninth round, was worried executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias wouldn’t know who he was when they spoke during pregame batting practice.
Elias was certainly aware of the VCU product, who has yet to allow a run in 6 1/3 innings with Aberdeen.