Tigers Prospect Profile: Joe Bowen

If there is one position in which the Tigers have struggled to truly develop players as of late, it's been behind the plate. Could Joe Bowen help change that trend and be a potential successor behind the dish in Detroit?

Joe Bowen
Position: Catcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 190
Born: 9/25/1987
Bats: Both
Throws: Right

Bowen joined the Tigers as a 12th round draft choice last summer, out of Vanguard High School. While at VHS, Joseph was one of the top District 5A catchers, posting .381 average with 21 RBI and 24 steals as a senior. After struggling as a sophomore and junior, Bowen's raw talent came through in his final campaign; earning him 1st Team All-Area and a nomination to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association State All-Star Team. The All-Area selection was his second first team nod in as many seasons.

As expected, the Tigers assigned Bowen to the Gulf Coast League for his first taste of professional baseball. After struggling to adjust in June, Bowen began to come alive as the season progressed. After finally settling in, Joseph posted a .344/.382/.406 line over his final twelve games. His .262/.374/.310 line for the season is not necessarily inspiring, but there are signs pointing towards future success as a pro.

Scouting Report
Bowen has an atypical skill set for a catcher, possessing good speed and size behind the dish. He is extremely quick behind the plate, with good receiving and blocking skills. Even more experienced pitchers in the GCL were immediately comfortable throwing to Bowen, whose leadership on the field belies his youth. He has a solid-average arm that could take steps forward as the organization tweaks the mechanics on his throws.

His quickness behind the plate comes from above-average speed; above-average by any measure, not just relative to catchers. He runs well from home to first, and even better once he gets rolling. His base stealing instincts need work, but he has the potential to swipe 10-12 bases annually.

As with his leadership abilities, his pitch recognition and willingness to wait for a pitch he can drive, are very advanced for his age. He rarely chases off-speed pitches out of the zone, but will get antsy on the high fastball, often chasing heaters above his shoulders. He has sound swing mechanics, but lacks loft, short-circuiting any power he could generate from his natural strength. He should hit for a solid average down the road, and his on-base abilities should continue to make him a solid offensive contributor.

The Tigers love Bowen's overall skills, and they think he can develop quickly. He is unlikely to ever develop significant power, but his on-base/speed combination could still make him a legitimate catching prospect in the mold of an early Jason Kendall.














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Health Record
Bowen was healthy throughout high school, and that trend did not change in his brief stint as a pro. With the shear number of catching prospects in the lower levels of the system, Bowen shouldn't be forced to log tons of innings behind the plate early in his career.

The Future
Bowen returned to Lakeland for a return tour through the Gulf Coast League in 2007, and has struggled to build off his 2006 success. He is still demonstrating the same on-base ability as before, but his contact rates have dipped and he appears to be pressing at the plate.

He made enough of an impression during spring training, that there was some mild discussion of starting him with Lakeland this season. As it turns out, the decision to head back to the GCL was likely a good move, as he obviously needs continued work in a more structured, close-knit environment. Bowen has all the tools of a Major League catcher, but he may take more time than initially thought. He must transfer some of his natural strength to the batter's box, giving him an added offensive dimension. Look for Bowen to get extensive work in the fall instructional league, and he should garner consideration for a slot in Oneonta to start next season.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.

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