Kansas City Royals pitching prospect Jonathan Bowlan’s mindset always favors what is best for the group. Whether it be the teammates he runs out on the field with or the people in his community, he strives to be the best version of himself for everyone.
The stage is set for Jonathan Bowlan to display the attributes that make him great on and off the field. As the Kansas City Royals second round pick in 2018, he has a platform to not only show his skills, but also to extend his reach into the community.
Inspiration can come in many forms. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort for professional athletes to make an impact on someone else. In fact, it only takes a minute. For players like Bowlan, their inspiration comes close to home.
“Giving back to the community to me is just as important as playing the game,” Bowlan said. “The reason I say that is because all it takes is one moment for you to inspire somebody’s life forever.”
Bowlan does not just talk the talk, he has been volunteering at events since his high school days. He volunteers with the Special Olympics any chance he gets, along with participating in the Best Buddies program in college. The Memphis baseball team also helped out at Step Up For Down Syndrome Walk.
“I enjoy volunteering for Special Olympics because my sister is deaf and [has] Down Syndrome,” Bowlan said. “It is just an incredible time watching her compete in what she loves doing!”
That kind of family support has manifested itself on the baseball field, too. In fact, it played a big role in his decision to play for the Memphis Tigers.
“The coaches were very welcoming, we had a very good recruiting class,” Bowlan said. “On top of that I was close to home so my family could come watch. It was the best place for me to pursue my career!”
From a young age he had a mentor in the game. His dad, Mark Bowlan, was a 19th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals. Jonathan Bowlan followed in his dad’s footsteps becoming a pitcher, and ultimately being a second round selection of the Kansas City Royals in 2018.
The younger Bowlan was not forced to be a pitcher, in fact far from it. The message for him growing up was to figure out exactly what his passion was.
“Growing up, my dad wanted me to play any position I could and any sport I could,” Bowlan said. “It just ended up being pitching, which I was able to get to the next level doing!”
The next level for Bowlan was Memphis, which also happened to be his dad’s alma mater. Both father and son made their mark on the Tigers’ record book. Mark threw the only perfect game in Tigers history, and Jonathan set a school record for strikeouts with 18 against the University of Southern Florida.
Memphis turned out the be a great choice for Bowlan. He grew into a pitcher worthy of a second round selection. Armed with a fastball that can touch 97, he adds a 6’6” frame that will allow him to develop into a solid starter.
It’s easy to say a player can develop into something. The reality is that it takes work. For Bowlan, that work manifests itself in learning everything he can from each appearance he makes.
“You have to be a student of the game if you’re trying to make it to the highest level,” Bowlan said.
“You have to ask questions, whether it’s your teammates or coaches. Especially if the coaches or players have made it to the highest level. It’s hard to learn if you don’t ask questions, and when you ask questions, it allows you to be more stress free because you know what you need to work on to reach your goal.”
Ultimately, Bowlan wants to pitch in the MLB, just like everyone else. With just one season at the Rookie level under his belt, there is still work to be done. Heading into the 2019 season, his goals are clear. He wants to be the best pitcher he can be for his team.
“[My goal is] to do everything in my power to lead my team to victory and be the best teammate I can be, no matter what the circumstances are,” Bowlan said.
To do that, he knows he needs to improve his control with his offspeed pitches. Bowlan wants to continue to be a student of the game and learn from each outing.
In his debut season, after 85 innings in college, Bowlan posted an ERA close to seven in nine starts. While he knows that was not an ideal performance, he is ready to improve in 2019.
“Last summer it was a little bit of a struggle, but that is going to happen,” Bowlan said. “All I can do is move forward and become a better ball player and learn from my mistakes.”
For a player whose main focus is performing for his team, there is a lot for him personally to be proud of. For starters, he ended the 2018 season on MLB Pipeline’s top 30 prospect list for the Kansas City Royals organization. Just don’t tell him where he ranks.
“I do not know where I am on the prospect list,” Bowlan said. “In my opinion, that does not mean much; you have to approach every day like your the last, because it does not matter where you are on the list. As long as you are producing for your team and the organization, you will have your opportunity to move up through the system.”
Once again, his focus remains on the field where he can help his team win.
Everything for Bowlan leads back to making people around him better. For his team, he does that by learning how to be the best pitcher he can be. His team oriented mentality translates into all aspects of his life. Off the field, he uses the spare minutes in his day to do his part for others.
When it comes down to it, Bowlan is humbled by what he has accomplished. He has learned from his family that there are bigger things in life than the game. That is what allows him to succeed.
Look no further than his draft day to see what is important to him. Bowlan did not expect to go in the second round, and he got the surreal experience that so little players get to experience. It’s what he remembers about the moments that follow that say the most.
“I remember hugging my dad and having flashbacks of what we have worked for my whole life,” Bowlan said. “My mom, sister, and girlfriend were all there and made it a moment I will never forget!”
Bowlan remembers the moments with those were close to him, those who helped mold him into the man he is. Entering his second year of professional baseball, he aims to be the best player and person he can in order to have the greatest impact possible on those around him.
His team-first attitude on the field and community-oriented mindset off the field make Jonathan Bowlan an asset in every aspect of his life. He is committed to working hard to reach the MLB, but that does not stop him from helping and inspiring everyone around him along the way.