With the No. 5 overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, the Baltimore Orioles selected Sam Houston State outfielder Colton Cowser, considered one of the best college hitters in the draft.
Cowser authored a strong track record of production at Sam Houston State from 2019-2021. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound outfielder hit .354/.460/.608 with 24 home runs and more walks (76) than strikeouts (70) throughout his career. He saved his best for last, hitting .374/.490/.680 with 16 homers with more walks (42) than strikeouts (32) in 2021.
It marks the third straight year the Orioles have used a top-five pick on a college hitter under GM Mike Elias. FanGraphs lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen pointed out Cowser as a potential target for the Orioles with the No. 5 pick on Glenn Clark Radio June 29.
“I think he has the best pure hit tool in the draft. He [was] being mocked in the middle of Round 1. I just think that guy comes off in the top 10 [on pure talent],” Longenhagen said. “He just belongs in there. … This is a really, really stable bat for me.”
Assuming he signs with the Orioles, Cowser will become one of the club’s best outfield prospects and should move fairly quickly given his college track record. Cowser’s signing bonus will likely come in under $6.2 million (the slot value of the No. 5 pick) because he wasn’t necessarily considered a top-five talent coming into the draft. As such, any savings will be spread around to players who require over-slot bonuses later in the draft. Baltimore’s bonus pool is about $11.8 million.
The Orioles executed the same plan with Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad last year, which allowed them to sign Iowa high school pitcher Carter Baumler and Florida high school third baseman Coby Mayo to over-slot bonuses.
The Orioles pick again at Nos. 41 and 65 before picking fifth in every round thereafter. The draft is 20 rounds this year.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sam Houston Athletics