It‘s right there on page 458. “Rowen’s pure stuff might be the worst in the 2014 Prospect Handbook.” His Baseball America write-up goes on to say Rowen — the No. 23 prospect in the Texas Rangers system — has “a chance to crack the big league bullpen in 2014.”
Ben Rowen is a submariner. The 25-year-old right-hander out of Virginia Tech is also a sinkerball specialist. Last year between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, he logged a 3.4 GB/FB rate. In 51 relief appearances he had a 0.69 ERA.
Rowen talked about his down-under delivery earlier this week.
Rowen on his repertoire: “I think my stuff is pretty unique. It’s something that really isn’t seen too often, so it’s good in the sense. I’m uncommon and use that to my advantage. I keep hitters off-balance.
“I’m pretty much fastball-slider and am working hard on developing my changeup. I’m working on trying to create pitches and see if I can be creative out there on the mound.”
On his fastball: “I use a two-seam grip. Every once in awhile I’ll throw one with a four-seam grip, but probably 99 percent of my fastballs are with a two-seam grip. My four-seam is a little harder and can be useful to stand a guy up and get him off the plate. But the two-seam is where I get the downward, sinking action. That’s where I live, down in the zone with sinking action, trying to get ground balls.
“Honestly, I’m not doing anything special. I’m just throwing the ball and the sink comes natural from that arm angle. I let the grip and the arm action do the work. I’m not pronating, or anything like that. I’m not doing anything besides staying behind the ball and releasing out front. That’s what creates the late action.”
On his mechanics: “I try to keep my motion [as smooth] as overhand mechanics, except I’m a little bent at the waist. Even though I’m down under, my weight transfer is similar to overhand throwing. I don’t want my arm to lag too far behind, because if I do that the ball won’t go where I want it to.
“I’m always working out of the stretch. I’m a reliever and it’s what I’m comfortable with. I want to simplify things, as opposed to adding in a whole new thing by throwing out of a windup.
“I’ve been throwing submarine for about eight years now. Before that, my high school coach told me to throw sidearm. I think it was a good progression to throw sidearm for four years and then move down. Mechanically, it was easier than going from overhand straight to submarine.”
On his breaking ball: “My breaking ball is like a slider. It goes east to west. Everyone calls it a Frisbee slider. There’s not much north-south movement. I don’t think you can create that from my arm angle. At times it even goes up, kind of like a rise ball.
“I’ve been messing around with trying to create a straight rise ball, kind of like [fast pitch] softball, going south to north. It’s tough to do and has been a work in progress for a few years now. Hopefully in the future I’ll be able to control that and make it work a little better. But I can mostly control whether it stays on one plane or goes up a little bit.”
On velocity: “I don’t look at the radar too often, but my fastball is usually around 80 mph. It’s between 78-82. I throw my slider somewhere between 70-75. The east-to-west slider and the one that goes up are similar speeds. I guess sometimes my slider will creep down into the 60s, but it typically stays around there.”
On his changeup: “As I said earlier, I’ve been working on a changeup. I had a little success with it this off-season. I’ve been working hard with my coaches, trying to figure that one out. I throw it every now and then, but it’s not a pitch you’ll see a lot. I want to improve it and throw it to both lefties and righties. I know it will help me with lefties.
“I’ve played around with pretty much everything. Right now my changeup is a modified circle, but I’ve tried everything from a split-finger to a Vulcan. I guess a Vulcan would have made me even more unique.”
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.