Ben Bowden struggles at All-Star Futures Game, eyes improvement

Jul 7, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; National League pitcher Ben Bowden (35) reacts in the seventh inning against the American League in the 2019 MLB All Star Futures Game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Rockies’ pitching prospect Ben Bowden was placed in familiar territory. Before the game, National League Futures Game manager, Dennis Martinez, told him he’d close it out.

When the seventh inning came – the final inning due to the game’s shortened format – Bowden was ready to go. For Double-A Hartford, he’d converted 20-of-20 save chances with a mere 1.05 earned run average.

With a two-run lead against the American League’s up-and-coming stars, he struggled.

“It was an honor to get the opportunity,” Bowden said. “Obviously, it went very poorly, but it is what it is. It happens.”

A leadoff walk set Bowden up for trouble early. The free pass wasn’t against a middle-of-the-road minor leaguer, rather, it was to Jo Adell. The outfielder is the Angels’ top prospect and the No. 4 prospect overall according to MLB.com.

After a hard lineout from Mariners’ top hitting prospect, Jarred Kelenic, the table was set for a one-out rally. Eventual Most Valuable Player, Sam Huff, packed with some of the top raw power in the minor leagues, came through on Bowden’s 94-mile-per-hour offering:

In 31 games this year, Bowden had only given up three home runs between both Double-A Hartford and Triple-A Albuquerque.

Bowden’s day was over after he allowed two more hits – a double and a single.

Instead, Padres’ prospect, Luis Patino, was the savior. With runners on the corners and one out, he struck out a pair to end the frame. He went on to hurl a scoreless eighth frame as well.

It was only another bump in the road for Bowden who has become used to overcoming hurdles.

After being drafted in the second round from Vanderbilt in 2016, Bowden was pegged for a fast track to the big leagues. A move to the bullpen only accelerated that process.

A pair of injuries – both back and hamstring – kept him out for all of 2017, delaying his rise. In spite of his rough showing in Cleveland, Ohio, he’s ready for the future, wherever that may be.

“I’m feeling good, I’m feeling healthy,” Bowden said. “I’m not looking at making it to the big leagues right now. (Just) worried about getting better.”

Though he’s not far off from making an appearance with the Rockies, Bowden has already entered the fast track once again. Of last year’s participants in the Futures Game, 22 have already appeared in the majors this year. Among them, Pete Alonso has thrived with the Mets, Yordan Alvarez has slugged his way to lore as well and Brendan Rodgers made his much-anticipated debut with the Rockies.

Albuquerque will be the returning flight for Bowden as he looks to rebound from his Futures Game showing. The lights, fans and atmosphere will be different, but his drive to make an impact will remain.

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