With all the attention that’s been placed upon the Dodgers‘ big league pitching staff during the first-half of the season, the conversations surrounding both the bullpen and starting rotation have been endless. Many folks familiar with the team sometimes scan the rosters of the minor league affiliates daily in search of an emerging arm which could potentially contribute at the major league level.
One of our loyal readers, the venerable Jeff D., recently brought to our attention the progress of Marshall Kasowski, who was recently promoted to the High-A Rancho Cucamonga bullpen. Against Inland Empire last Sunday, the 23-year-old righty recorded the first minor league save of his career, throwing 1-1/3 innings of perfect baseball with two strikeouts.
And speaking of strikeouts, his career 15.07 K/9 rate in the minors is what’s been garnering him the most attention.
For those unfamiliar with Kasowski, he was drafted by the Dodgers in the 13th round of last year’s MLB draft out of West Texas A&M, not long after being named the 2017 Lone Star Conference Co-Male Athlete of the Year. The Conroe, TX native led the nation in strikeouts in 2017 by breaking the school and the conference season record with 165 as his team won the LSC Baseball Tournament Championship. He also topped the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 15.91.
Kasowski became the highest drafted player in WT Baseball history and was a finalist for the Brett Tomko Award, which recognizes the best Division II pitcher in the country. Tallying a 9-5 record and a 2.22 ERA for West Texas in 2017, he pitched a team-high 93-1/3 innings, allowing just 50 hits and 23 earned runs as opponents hit a team-low .156 against him. Kasowski also registered 11 games of double-digit strikeouts, including a school-record 17 on March 24, 2017.
After surviving a horrific car accident at the end of 2015, Kasowski says the experience changed him as a person. He has become a gym rat in hopes of using strength to improve his pitching performance, and he has also become a motivational speaker in hopes of passing along his personal revelations.
“I don’t look at it as something that set me back,” Kasowski told J.J. Cooper of Baseball America last summer. “I’m a lot more mature. I work a lot smarter on and off the field. It matured me as a person. It made me appreciate the small things in life. I don’t take success for granted.”
Not long after being drafted by the Dodgers, Kasowski was thrown right into the minor league fire, having been jettisoned to the Arizona Rookie League where he made four appearances, throwing 5-1/3 frames of one-hit baseball with nine strikeouts in the process. Impressed with what they saw from the righty, scouting directors immediately promoted him to Low-A Great Lakes, where he made another five appearances to finish his campaign.
He began his 2018 season with the Great Lakes, but was promoted to Rancho after making 15 appearances with the Loons, throwing an even 28 innings with 49 punchouts. Since being bumped up to High-A ball, Kasowski has appeared in four games and has posted a 1.69 ERA after surrendering just two hits over 5-1/3 innings of work.
While he has allowed 19 walks in 33-1/3 total innings this season, it’s not an uncommon number for a pitcher at the Single-A level, as his command is something he can certainly improve upon as he continues to climb the organizational ladder.
As far as his repertoire goes, Kasowski’s bread and butter is undoubtedly his heater, which sits in the low-to-mid nineties, sometimes topping out as high as 96 MPH. But it’s his unorthodox delivery which caught the eye of the major league scouts. He throws from a slot right next to his ear, which creates a very deceptive motion that leads to him missing plenty of bats.
“I don’t know how I got to that point. I know I’m coming through my ear. I’ve been blessed with a funky motion,” Kasowski told Cooper.
Either way, at the rate he continues to strikeout batters and progress through the system, Kasowski’s ascension to the top of the minor league depth chart may be a quick one.
And considering the current need for organizational bullpen help, his timing couldn’t be any better.