Augusta Team Report | May 3

On Tuesday, the team's top starter took not only his first loss of the season, but an arguably career-worst beating at the hands of the Kannapolis Intimidators. But there's plenty to indicate that this is just a blip on what has been an impressive start to his career.

Record (through May 2): First place (22-5) in the Southern Division (Four games ahead of second-place Asheville).

It's hard to ignore getting touched up for six runs in five innings. But when the pitcher getting touched up is Adam Cowart, it goes beyond being noteworthy.

Not when Cowart had given up only 12 runs total in his entire career -- over 113 innings of it.

The outing reignites an interesting debate over Cowart. The 23-year old pitcher is one of the most unique throwers in all of baseball, having adjusted his pitching motion to take pressure off his knee, which suffered an infection in college. The result is a fastball that is fringy at best for prospects, but a motion that has been impossible for hitters to pick up.

Cowart's fans have said that his velocity is inconsequential, and even postulated that he should be promoted because there's little left for him to learn. Cowart's detractors have said that his fastball is going to be his downfall, and that a velocity in the mid-80s is going to be hittable when he faces more advanced hitters.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle.

The more Cowart pitches, the more he will have hitters trying to pick up his unusual motion. And with a hot start in the South Atlantic League, in which he had a 0.60 ERA in his first five starts, and just two walks while winning them all, attention on him has grown as has hitters are trying to figure him out.

Has that happened with this most recent start? Probably not.

Cowart hadn't faced the Intimidators yet this season, and while they may have had scouts preparing for him, scouting only prepares a hitter so much when seeing a pitching motion on the mound. No, it was probably much more likely that Cowart just had an off-night. He wasn't walking anyone, but his pitches were obviously hittable. Despite giving up season-highs in almost every category, he also uniquely had a season-high in strikeouts.

But that doesn't mean there aren't the fears of a team getting a second pass at Cowart in the near future.

Cowart's next two scheduled starts, through a quirk of the schedule, will come against the Greenville Drive, whom Cowart limited to three hits over six innings on April 26. But even that may not be a test, as Greenville has the lowest team batting average and second-worst runs scored in the South Atlantic League.

So Giants and GreenJackets fans shouldn't let one bad start scare them off. Cowart's got a lot left in him, both to learn and to prove.

Player of the Week: Ben Snyder

The Giants may have guys like Cowart and Tim Lincecum making all the buzz in the system, but somehow Snyder, the Giants fourth-round pick in 2006 gets overlooked. Snyder hasn't allowed a run in his last five outings while doing a tag-team rotation bit with teammate Dan Griffin. However, his April 28th outing against the Drive was by far his most spectacular, striking out 10 while giving up just one hit while going four innings.

By The Numbers: 14

Fourteen is the club-record winning streak the West Virginia Power had broken in the past week. The streak is longer than Augusta's to start the season. West Virginia has taken the lead in the Northern Division, but their .783 winning percentage isn't enough to beat Augusta's .815 winning percentage on the season.



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