JOHN BOWKER
CORNER OUTFIELDER
 Born: July 8, 1983
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 190
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 3rd Round, 100th overall, 2004
How Acquired: Trade (for Javier Lopez)
College: Long Beach State
Agent: N/A

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates obtained Bowker 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. In the minors, he’s had an OPS well over a hundred points higher against RHPs than LHPs, so he’s a candidate to be a platoon player. Bowker 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. 2005-06: Posted pedestrian numbers in high-offense California League.2007: Had seeming breakout season in AA, although plate discipline was marginal. Power numbers weren’t inflated by Bowker’s home park, Connecticut in the Eastern League, which was a difficult park to hit the ball out of.

2008-09: Got semi-regular playing time as rookie in 2008 and hit respectably, with some power but poor plate discipline. Got little chance, however, in 2009 despite hammering AAA pitching. Of course, these numbers always should be questioned, especially with prospects with west coast teams, whose affiliates often play in the extreme hitter’s leagues, which are the Cal League and the Pacific Coast League. Giants’ AAA affiliate, Fresno, plays in the PCL in a park that inflates HRs, but otherwise is a pitcher’s park.

2010: Continued to blast PCL pitching while getting little opportunity in majors. After trade, Pirates sent Bowker to Indianapolis. GM Neal Huntington characterized him as possible spare outfielder who’d fit well with PNC Park’s dimensions. Didn’t play much at first with Ryan Doumit and Lastings Milledge both playing right. Pirates seemed to get more interested around mid-month. 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 first twenty ABs with Pirates, finished 15-for-49 (.306). As major leaguer, has just five hits in 46 at-bats against LHPs. Small sample size, but players who have yet to establish themselves in majors at age 27 don’t get extended opportunities.

Bowker is out of options, so he had to make the team out of spring training in 2011 or go through waivers.  Going into camp, it looked like heavy odds against him, but he had a good spring and opened the season with the team.  He was helped by Chris Snyder’s back problems, which prevented the team from carrying three catchers.  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.  He’s already shown he can hammer AAA pitching, so it’s probably not going to matter much what he does there.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2011: League Minimum
2010: $410,000
2009:
$407,500
2008: $390,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $405,000
MiLB Debut: 2004
MLB Debut: 4/12/2008
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible:
N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man:
11/21/2007
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2008, 2009, 2010)
MLB Service Time: 1.134
TRANSACTIONS
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.