Graphic of Bowen selected by Seattle Mariners. Submitted Photo / UNCP Athletics
By Jacob Husson
Pitcher Darren Bowen joined an elite group of UNC-Pembroke baseball players in July. He became the most recent Brave to be drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. The Seattle Mariners selected him in the thirteenth round with pick No. 396. He is the fifteenth player from UNCP to be drafted overall and the fourth since head coach, Paul O’Neil took control of the program.
Darren’s selection marks the first time since 1968-1969 that the Braves have had players selected in consecutive drafts. The San Diego Padres selected two-way star River Ryan in the 11th round last year. Ryan is now with the Ranco Cucamonga Quakes in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ farm system. Bowen is the eighth player from UNCP to be selected within the first thirteen rounds.
Bowen, a St. Pauls native, saw significant success prior to enrolling at UNC-Pembroke. As a senior, he compiled an 8-4 record with a 1.01 Earned Run Average (ERA), hurling 105 strikeouts. He also threw four complete games, one of which was a shutout.
Darren Bowen was a key part of UNCP’s pitching staff over the last three seasons. He held opponents to a .240 batting average in the spring. Despite moving to the starting rotation for in the season’s final month, Bowen finished among NCAA Division 2’s saves leaders. He struck out 84 batters in 54 2/3 innings. This included thirteen strikeouts in the series opener at Mount Olive, which was a career best.
Coach Paul O’Neill said Bowen’s greatest asset, “His fastball is his best pitch because he gets it out of there with impressive velocity”. The continual refinement of this pitch will be important to Bowen’s progression as a professional pitcher.
Coach O’Neill said Darren was a leader and very hard worker. He also said Darren doesn’t want to fail and uses that fear of failure as fuel to work harder. This will help improve his already impressive pitching ability.
Regarding Bowen’s work ethic, assistant coach Jeff Jefferson said he was “a sponge for wanting to get better.” He also indicated that because of the work put in, Bowen was loose and confident on game days.
Bowen graduated seventh out of his 180-member senior class at Red Springs High School. He accumulated a 4.2 GPA during his time at the school. He majored in exercise & sports science. He lists his mother as his hero and says his favorite movie is “The Blind Side”.
The Seattle Mariners want to see a return on their investment in Darren Bowen. Meanwhile, UNC-Pembroke hopes to see him succeed at the professional level. Bowen is just the latest player from UNCP to be drafted by a Major League club. Following River Ryan last year, Bowen’s selection marks the fifteenth time a Brave has been drafted to MLB.