Two years ago, Marco Island resident and Lely graduate Kit Fowler faced an uncertain baseball future.
Sidelined with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, Fowler yearned to get back on the mound for Tennessee Tech, after transferring from St. Petersburg College three years ago.
He returned from surgery last year to inconsistent results. He posted a 5.11 earned run average over 15 relief appearances, allowing 25 hits over 24 2/3 innings with 11 walks and 27 strikeouts.
He was much better in his final collegiate season this year, going 4-1 with a 3.57 earned run average with 50 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings pitched. He helped the Golden Eagles win the Ohio Valley Conference title and advance to the NCAA Division I regional, where Tennessee Tech went 1-2, including an opening-game upset of Florida State. Tennessee Tech went 41-21, improving from 31-24 the year before and a disappointing fourth-place finish in the conference.
“It was a really good year, both for me personally and the team as well,” Fowler said. “Our team had a big turnaround from last year, where we lost two games a row in the (conference) tournament and we were done. We thought we were a much better team than that last year, and we vowed not to have that same bad taste in our mouths.”
The Eagles dominated the league this year, going 23-7 during regular-season OVC contests and then winning three consecutive games in the conference tournament. In the conference clincher against Belmont, Fowler worked the final four innings in dominant fashion for the save. He allowed just two hits and an unearned run, striking out 10 and walking none in the 16-4 victory.
He then made one appearance in the regional tournament, allowing one hit over 3 1/3 scoreless innings in a 5-3 loss to Auburn. He did walk an uncharacteristic five hitters, but he was overall pleased with his final collegiate performance.
“All in all, I thought it was a good outing,” Fowler said. “Three shutout innings against one of the better teams in the SEC was a nice way to go out.”
Fowler features four pitches, including a fastball that sits in the low 90s and can touch 94. He also throws a change-up, slider and curve.
He is hopeful his strong senior year garnered him enough notice for the MLB First-Year Player Draft, which starts Monday and runs through Wednesday.
“One of our assistants called me into the office late in the year and told me there have been teams calling about me,” he said. “So I think there’s a good possibility I get picked up. I’m definitely interested, it’s something you dream when you’re a kid.”
Although he possesses the stuff to play in the pros, there a few factors that work against him getting picked early in the draft. As a college senior, he doesn’t have the leverage high school kids or younger college players have, where they can opt for playing in college if the offer isn’t to their liking. And since Fowler redshirted a year due to the Tommy John surgery, he’s a bit older at 23, compared to most of the other potential draftees.
“The high school kids getting picked are 18 and most of the college guys taken are 21 or so,” he said. “But I think I’ve pitched well enough for a chance, and I’ve heard there’s some interest, so hopefully it works out.”