University of Florida

Who is Jackson Kowar, the Florida pitcher drafted by the Kansas City Royals?

Florida's Jackson Kowar pitches during the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament NCAA baseball game against Arkansas, Friday, May 25, 2018, in Hoover, Ala.
Florida's Jackson Kowar pitches during the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament NCAA baseball game against Arkansas, Friday, May 25, 2018, in Hoover, Ala. AP Photo

Florida pitcher Jackson Kowar hasn't earned the same praise or national recognition as fellow teammate Brady Singer. That's the price you pay as the No. 2 starter.

But like Florida baseball's recent history would tell you, the Gators tend to have more than one ace in their weekend rotation.

Kowar is another example of that.

And despite going through a rough patch at the end of his junior season, his talent was still recognized on Monday.

He'll also stay teammates with Singer.

The Kansas City Royals selected Kowar with the 33rd overall pick in the compensatory first round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Kowar joins third baseman Jonathan India (No. 5, Cincinnati Reds) and Singer (No. 18, Kansas City Royals) as first-round selections from UF this year, marking the first time in program history the Gators had three selections in the first round of a given draft. Kowar's draft slot is valued at about $2.1 million.

Kowar began his Florida career as a midweek starter during his freshman season before a collapsed lung caused him to sit out the postseason. After fully recovering, he became a regular in the weekend rotation over the past two seasons.

Kowar is 9-5 this season with a 3.53 ERA over 16 starts but has had a rough go as of late. He is 0-3 with a 7.13 ERA over his last three starts.

The most recent — and arguably toughest — loss: Monday's 7-4 loss to Florida Atlantic in the Gainesville Regional of the NCAA Tournament that set up a winner-take-all game later in the night. Kowar tied his career-worst marks in runs allowed (seven, although only four were earned) and hits (11) while striking out five and walking four over six innings.

But when Kowar was at the top of his game, he showed that he had the potential to be one of the best in college baseball. His fastball sits comfortably between 93 and 95 mph and can touch 97 and 98 early on in games. His change-up has improved throughout his time at Florida, as has his slider.

For his career, Kowar is 24-6 over 47 appearances (40 starts). He has 224 career strikeouts over 241.1 innings. His 24 wins are tied for ninth all-time in UF history. He recorded the final five outs of Florida's College World Series-clinching win over LSU last year — securing the only save of his collegiate career in the process.

With Kowar's selection and Singer going earlier in the round, Florida has now had seven pitchers selected in the first round under coach Kevin O'Sullivan. The others: Alex Faedo (No. 18, 2017), A.J. Puk (No. 6, 2016), Dane Dunning (No. 29, 2016), Jonathon Crawford (No. 20, 2013) and Brian Johnson (No. 31, 2012).

  Comments