Long and short of it: Bowen has the power

Baseball: Nick Bowen's size isn't intimidating but his skills are: He's leading the area with eight home runs and batting .340 for Chesapeake-Anne Arundel.

May 05, 2002|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

Bat speed and foot speed can take a baseball player a long way.

Chesapeake-Anne Arundel junior outfielder Nick Bowen has both and hopes to parlay them into his dream of playing professional baseball.

Although his size (5 feet 10, 166 pounds) and speed befits a leadoff hitter, Bowen's power is like that of a bigger cleanup slugger.

"Being a little guy, I surprise myself on how far I can hit home runs," said Bowen, who leads the metro area in homers with eight and is batting .340 for the No. 11 Cougars (12-7). "But when I am hitting the ball well, I see the ball hit the bat and I drive it with a short, compact swing."

Bowen, who is working on the trifecta after being named All-County in football and indoor track this past season, hit 13 homers in 33 games last summer for the Pasadena American Legion Post 277 team.

The right-handed hitter said he has always been able to hit the baseball a long way since his dad, Norman, started teaching him at age 5. "Trust your bat speed," his dad always preached.

Working out in the weight room also has made a difference, Bowen said, as well as the fact that his small stature sometimes fools pitchers. "Being little has been good for me because pitchers think they can blow the fastball by me," said Bowen, who bench-presses 250 pounds, has a power clean of 230, dead-lifts 460 and power-squats 540. "I get a lot of good fastballs to hit."

Though Bowen has the speed for inside-the-park home runs -- he covers the 60-yard dash in a big-league time of 6.6 seconds -- all of his homers this season have been over the fence.

"He amazes me how far he can hit the ball," said Chesapeake coach Jim Simms. "He hit one at Frederick that went over the 330-foot sign on the fence and by the time it stopped rolling, it had to go well over 500 feet.

"His bat speed is tremendous and we have never had anybody with the combination of power and speed that he has."

Recently, opponents have been pitching around him, necessitating Simms move him to second in the batting order. With power-hitting catcher Jim Wienke (.448, four HRs, five doubles, 31 RBIs) batting third, teams almost have to pitch to Bowen.

"Nick can change a game at any moment, any time up," said Simms.

Bowen (three doubles, 18 RBIs, .730 slugging percentage) hits most of his homers to left and left-center because he pulls the ball, even the outside pitch that he knows he has to learn to go with if he is to succeed at the next level.

"His athleticism also helps him in baseball," Simms said.

A running back on the Cougars' football team, Bowen led the county in rushing with 1,482 yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing two games with an ankle injury. He also set school single-game and season records.

In the indoor track season, Bowen finished second to Annapolis' Mike Brown -- the Anne Arundel County Boys' Performer of the Year -- in the county 55-meter dash.

Brown had to set a county meet record at 6.2 seconds to best Bowen, who came in at 6.3. Bowen went on to win the 4A-3A Central Region title in the 55 dash in his first year of track.

"I went out for track to work on my speed and technique and coach Skip Lee helped me a lot with my first step," Bowen said. "I had always run straight up and I learned to lean down more and it has improved my running speed."

Bowen moved from second base to the outfield this season, where he said he is more comfortable.

"Nick catches everything he gets close to in the outfield and has a strong arm," said Simms.

"There is no doubt in my mind that he is All-County and will succeed in college ball and maybe pro ball. He's such a competitor and the kind of kid a coach has to promote."

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