BRISTOL, Va. – Larry Owens sat in the home clubhouse on Monday night intently poring over some paperwork.
When it comes to crunching numbers, the pitching coach for the Bristol White Sox certainly likes the statistics put up so far by his young protégés.
“Absolutely,” Owens said. “I’ve been happy with the way everybody’s throwing the ball, not just the starters, but everybody. That’s always a plus, especially at this level.”
Don’t be fooled by the 4-7 record. Bristol’s pitching staff has been consistently good.
The starting rotation of Drew Bowen (0-0, 0.00 ERA in two starts), Tony Bucciferro (1-1, 3.55 ERA in two starts), Jordan Guerrero (0-1, 3.48 in two starts), Robinson Leyer (0-2, 3.00 ERA in two starts) and Kelvis Valerio (1-1, 1.64 ERA in two starts) has been solid if not spectacular.
Bucciferro entered Monday second in the Appalachian League in strikeouts (16), while Valerio allowed one run in three innings of work on Monday night against Pulaski before the game was suspended due to rain.
Bristol has a team ERA of 3.51 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3-to-1. Like a proud poppa, Owens beams with pride when it comes to his staff’s command of the strike zone.
“The big hurdle is generally strikes,” Owens said. “It’s really good that they’ve came in and done a great job and thrown the ball over the plate and given us a chance to win most every night so far. That’s all you can ask of them.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise has been Bowen, an undrafted free agent out of Oral Roberts University.
He has not allowed an earned run and yielded just three hits over 7 1/3 innings in his two outings.
A former Summit League pitcher of the year at Oral Roberts, Bowen compiled a 21-11 career record, but was hampered by some injuries.
When it came time for last month’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft he was bypassed in each of the 40 rounds.
“I’ve kind of dealt with it the last few years and the same things happened. I’ve had some bad luck,” Bowen said. “But you know, I was fortunate to get out here and get a chance and that’s all you can ask for.
“This is always what I’ve wanted to do. I just wanted the opportunity to do it and I’m making the most of it.”
Learning under the tutelage of Owens has certainly been a plus for Bowen and his teammates.
“He’s been really good. He keeps it simple and straight to the point,” Bowen said. “He tells you all the stuff you need to know to be successful and keep moving up the ladder.”
If Bristol’s pitching keeps performing at a high level, the White Sox might move up the Appy League standings.
“Our pitching’s been our bright spot I think,” said Bristol manager Mike Gellinger. “They’ve done a real good job of throwing strikes, keeping the ball down, making them put it in play and all those good pitching analogies of baseball.”
NOTES: Bristol led 2-1 in the middle of the third inning when Monday’s game was suspended. … Bristol and Pulaski will resume the suspended game on Wednesday at 6 p.m., with a seven-inning contest between the teams to follow. … The BriSox and the rest of the Appalachian League are off today. … A fireworks show will be held at the completion of Wednesday’s twinbill.