A year under his belt and regained health is what sophomore Jackson Kowar is bringing to the field this year for the Florida Baseball team. The Gators are back with a second week of practice, and head coach Kevin O’Sullivan is getting the younger players comfortable.
Right-handed pitcher Jackson Kowar is using his experience to add to the equation and hopefully get back to Omaha. Last season, Kowar missed the second half with a condition unrelated to baseball. This condition was a collapsed lung that gave him issues on the road at South Carolina last April.Kowar had successful surgery that he claims wasn’t as scary as it was perceived. In fact, he even says he felt ready for regional play in Omaha. He spent the summer in Gainesville rehabbing and getting stronger.
After working out the freshman year nerves, he got into a rhythm with a 3.38 ERA in 34.2 innings, 44 strikeouts, and 10 walks. He became a midweek solid pitcher and started in 6 games. He got up to 96-98 mph with his fastball, a splitter at 84-86 mph and changeup at 78-82 mph. He admires former Gator teammate Logan Shore’s ability to add a third pitch onto the mound, and has been developing his more.
In the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, the Detroit Tigers selected Kowar in the 40th round, but he elected to get more reps in college. However, the Sunshine State was not where Kowar was originally headed.
During his sophomore year in high school, he felt he’d play for Jack Leggett at Clemson. After a coaching change he was released and with his parent’s guidance, he revisited schools. Kowar calls this a blessing in disguise. After meeting the players and seeing the culture around Florida baseball, it became clear this was where he belonged.
Kowar got to run the bases with the six players that went pro last season. The older guys left a lot of knowledge with the team, and Kowar wants to share what they taught him. There are big cleats to fill, but the added pressure is motivation for the season. The team is hungry and all of the guys are looking to get extra innings. His roommate Blake Reese is someone that is showing a lot of improvement in his hitting with extra work over the summer.