JOHN BOWKER, CORNER OUTFIELDER
|Born: July 8, 1983
Height: 6′ 2″
Drafted: 3rd Round, 100th overall, 2004
How Acquired: Trade (for future considerations)
College: Long Beach State
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Bowker will be on his second go-round with the Pirates. They originally obtained him and RHP Joe Martinez from the Giants in a deadline deal for LHP Javier Lopez. He’s a LH-hitting corner player with good power to all fields, but he was never able to get established in the majors with the Giants. His career fits a type that’s not uncommon: a power hitter who puts up big numbers in AAA (especially in the hitting-happy PCL), but never seems to interest major league teams much, never gets much of a chance, and fades at a relatively young age (about 28 in Bowker’s case). In the minors, he’s had an OPS well over a hundred points higher against RHPs than LHPs. He seldom faced LHPs in his limited major league opportunities. He doesn’t run well and is below average defensively. He’s played a little at first as well as in the outfield corners and some observers think he shouldn’t play anywhere but first. The Pirates acquired him for the second time, also from the Giants, for future considerations.
The Giants sent Bowker to rookie ball initially, which proved to be a very unchallenging assignment. After ten games he moved up to the short-season Northwest League and continued to hit very well, albeit with much weaker plate discipline. He played strictly in the outfield.
The Giants jumped Bowker up to the California League, where he had unimpressive numbers considering the high-offense nature of the league. His plate discipline was borderline at best.
Bowker returned to the Cal League and put up fairly similar numbers. He continued to play strictly in the outfield corners.
Bowker seemingly had a breakout season in AA, although his plate discipline improved only a little. His power numbers weren’t inflated by his home park, Connecticut in the Eastern League, which suppressed HRs. The Giants played him mostly in right, but he saw some time in center.
The Giants called Bowker up a week into the season and he spent most of the year with them He got semi-regular playing time and hit respectably, with some power but poor plate discipline. He played mostly at first and rarely faced LHPs.
Bowker spent most of the season in AAA. He put up big numbers there, including dramatically improved BB and K rates. The Giants, however, called him up only for about a month in July and again in September. Of course, Pacific Coast League numbers always have to be viewed with caution. Bowker’s home park in Fresno was generally a pitcher’s park, but it did inflate HR totals.
Bowker continued to blast PCL pitching while getting little opportunity in the majors. The Pirates acquired him at the trade deadline and sent him to Indianapolis. GM Neal Huntington characterized him as a possible spare outfielder who’d fit well with PNC Park’s dimensions. The Pirates called him up in September and he didn’t play much at first with Ryan Doumit and Lastings Milledge both playing right. The team seemed to get more interested around mid-month. He played most of the time the rest of the way against RHPs, mainly in right but with four starts at first. After getting only one hit in his first twenty ABs with Pirates, he finished 15-for-49 (.306).
Bowker was out of options, so he had to make the team out of spring training in 2011 or go through waivers. He had a good spring and opened the season with the team. Nevertheless, Clint Hurdle seemed to have little interest in Bowker, giving him no starts until the team finally designated him for assignment in late April after claiming Xavier Paul off waivers. He was not claimed and the Pirates assigned him to Indianapolis, where he continued to hit well. At the end of August the Pirates sent him to the Phillies for future considerations and he spent September with Philadelphia, mostly striking out in PH roles.
Bowker signed to play with Yomiuri in Japan, where he struggled badly.
Bowker returned to Yomiuri, where he had a much better season, at least in the power department.
Bowker spent the season in Rakuten, where his hitting dropped off.
Bowker signed a minor league deal with the Giants and went to their PCL affiliate, where he played first. He didn’t hit well and, in June, the Giants for the second time traded him to the Pirates. The latter may have been motivated to acquire him by the severe struggles of Hunter Morris. Playing primarily at first base, Bowker hit even worse with Indianapolis and his playing time diminished after Josh Bell was promoted. His plate discipline collapsed, in particular.
Bowker’s return to the US hasn’t gone well. He’ll be a free agent after the season and there’s no reason for the Pirates to try to re-sign him.
|2015: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $405,000
MiLB Debut: 2004
MLB Debut: 4/12/2008
MiLB FA Eligible: 2015
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 11/21/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2008, 2009, 2010)
MLB Service Time: 2.025
|June 7, 2004: Drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 3rd round, 100th overall pick.
July 19, 2004: Signed by the San Francisco Giants to a minor league contract with a $405,000 bonus.
November 21, 2007: Contract purchased by the San Francisco Giants.
July 31, 2010: Acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the San Francisco Giants along with Joe Martinez in exchange for Javier Lopez.
April 27, 2011: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to Indianapolis on May 4, 2011.
August 31, 2011: Traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Philadelphia Phillies for future considerations.
January 10, 2012: Released by the Philadelphia Phillies.
January 21, 2015: Signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants.
June 11, 2015: Traded by the San Francisco Giants to the Pittsburgh Pirates for future considerations.