There are times in every ballplayer’s career when it seems, the fate of a team, a season or a career will live or die on his next move.
For some, it’s still just baseball.
It’s that way for Oakland A's 2010 10th round draft pick Josh Bowman, whose college coach called “every coach’s dream.”
Bowman, a small-town kid from St. Petersburg, Fla., admitted the whirlwind of his first few days as pro and the big city lights of Vancouver were a bit intimidating, but the objective is the same, no matter the size of the stadium.
“I’m used to coming to the stadium, so it’s not much different,” he said in a recent phone interview.
It’s that type of attitude that makes him a born leader, according to his college coach.
“He’s every coach’s dream, and how you’d want your son to act,” University of Tampa coach Joe Urso said.
“Late last season, heading into a series with Florida Southern, we were in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time in quite a while, and Josh told his teammates we had to finish strong and let the seniors go out on a high note.
“He started one game, came out of the bullpen in another, and got it done.”
But, far from vocal, Urso said Bowman led by example, putting in the work on and off the field.
“We’d have to chase him out of the weight room,” Urso said.
Originally drafted by the Athletics in the 49th round of the 2007 draft, Bowman elected for college, going undefeated in 15 starts as a freshman, including a seven-inning no-hitter.
As with his work off the field, his work on the field increased, too. After 52 strike-outs in 45.1 innings his sophomore year, he notched 85 Ks in 85 innings in 2010, including an eight-strikeout performance in 6.1 innings in the Division II championships against Georgia College & State.
“Josh is by far the hardest working pitcher we have ever had,” associate head coach Sam Militello said in a release from the school after being chosen by the A’s. “The improvements he has made have put him in this position to be drafted.”
As a pro, he’ll only have to work harder, a fact not lost on the academic All-American.
“It’s more of an independent game (in the pros),“ Bowman said. “They treat you like men and don’t baby you.”
He added: “It’s more of a personal game.”
So, in his debut, he made it personal. As each level gets faster, Bowman knew he had to stay loose. He said when he took the mound for the first time, he was thinking one thing: “slow it down.”
His approached has worked well so far.
After two strikeouts in one inning with the A’s rookie league team in Arizona, Bowman has struck out 15 and walked only three in 11.2 innings. According to Urso, his fastball hits 88-93 and his change up is good. He gained confidence in his slider towards the end of his college career, and Bowman said it has gotten a lot better.