Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Kown was a dominating high school pitcher; tossing 3 no-hitters during his prep career. Moving on to college, Kown struggled with the adjustment to the Division I game, posting an ERA over nine in four freshman appearances. After making some adjustments, he showed signs of life working in a swingman role during his sophomore campaign. He followed up his improved second season, with a trip to play in the Alaskan Summer Baseball League; a trip that proved to be a huge stepping stone for Kown. Andrew returned to the Yellow Jackets for the 2004 season, and dominated his ACC counterparts; posting a 10-1 record with a 3.46 ERA in 112 innings.
Kown's breakthrough season vaulted him up draft boards, where the Tigers selected him in the 5th round. Upon signing for just over $200,000, Kown reported to short-season Oneonta where he continued his impressive run. In nine starts, Andrew tossed 41 innings, striking out 37 while walking only 13, and posting a 2.85 ERA. The 2005 season was supposed to be one where he announced himself as a serious prospect; unfortunately, it didn't go quite as planned. Kown was pitching pretty well prior to being struck on the head with a line drive. It was a struggle to regain confidence from that point on, and Andrew ended the season with a 4.36 ERA and 8-11 record in 150 innings for West Michigan.
A brief return to West Michigan in 2006 got Kown back on track. In 16 relief innings for the ‘Caps, Andrew didn't allow a run, and only allowed 10 base runners total. A prompt promotion to Lakeland moved Kown back into the starting rotation, where he managed a 6-5 record and a 3.53/1.36 line for a struggling L-Tigers squad.
Kown is a tall, lanky athlete with surprising agility and coordination. Using a slightly above-average fastball (89-93 mph) and a sharp, late darting slider, Kown consistently pitches ahead in the count, putting batters at a distinct disadvantage. He generates good sinking action on his fastball, inducing groundballs with ease. With good command of both pitches, and an aggressive willingness to pitch inside, Kown keeps hitters off balance.
His motion is surprisingly smooth for someone of his size, and he follows through completely on a consistent, repetitive motion, minimizing the stress on his arm. His thin frame has room to add bulk without losing flexibility, and he could see increased velocity as he progresses.
Andrew uses his plus athleticism to field his position well, making accurate throws on the infield. A polished pitcher who could move quickly, Kown's poise and maturity on the mound will only aid in his success as he faces advanced hitters at higher levels.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG AA
Aside from the injuries sustained when he was struck by a liner in 2005, Kown has remained healthy throughout his collegiate and professional careers.
Kown moved up to AA-Erie this season, in what should prove to be a pivotal season for him. He has maintained at least intermittent success at every level, and there is little doubt he has the ability to pitch at the highest level. Kown has demonstrated the durability necessary to remain a starter, but his arsenal plays a touch better out of the bullpen.
He'll fill whatever role is necessary at Erie this season, but his long term future is likely in the bullpen. With the likely departures of veterans like Jose Mesa, Todd Jones, and possibly even Jason Grilli, Kown could earn the opportunity to debut in the Detroit bullpen at some point in 2008. Should he come out hot this season, don't be entirely surprised if he's included in a deadline deal to help the Major League club.
Mark Anderson covers the Tigers' minor league system and all of minor league baseball for TigsTown.com. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.