Marc Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer provides the “local boy makes good” (or tries to make good) story of Billy Rowell.
His current address is the same as last year’s, with the Orioles’ advanced single-A team, the Frederick Keys.
Rowell hasn’t enjoyed a meteoric rise in the farm system, but there has been tangible progress. Still, he has had to be patient.
“It’s not what you expect out of high school, and it’s a lot different,” Rowell said before last night’s rain-delayed doubleheader against the Winston-Salem Dash.
“I love what I’m doing, but it’s a grind and a marathon, and there is a lot to get used to. But I am feeling comfortable with the lifestyle.”
Rowell was part of what has become a highly celebrated first-round draft class in 2006; it included last year’s American League rookie of the year, Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay, and last season’s National League Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum of San Francisco. Both were college players, with Longoria taken third out of Long Beach State and Lincecum drafted one spot behind Rowell, at No. 10, out of the University of Washington.
It would be natural for Rowell to look at his first-round brethren and put extra pressure on himself. He says that isn’t necessarily the case.
“I don’t feel pressure from outside sources, but I expect a lot from myself and put a little pressure on myself to do well,” he said. “There isn’t any added pressure by that [first-round] label.”
This is Rowell’s second season at Frederick. Last season, he batted .248 with seven home runs and 50 RBIs in 375 at-bats.
Rowell ended last season hitting in 11 of 13 games. Entering last night, he had a nine-game hitting streak and was batting .286 (24 for 84) with seven doubles, a home run, and eight RBIs.
Roar from 34 checked in on Rowell last June. His is an intriguing story given that the success of other 2006 picks like Longoria and Lincecum. The Birds passed on Lincecum in favor of Rowell because they were concerned about the pitcher’s susceptibility to injury given his forceful delivery.