He has the bulldog attitude, the will to win, the courage to push through when his stats tell us something further from the truth.
Towers saw early success while attending Oxnard JC, located in Oxnard California. The Baltimore Orioles saw the promise and drafted Towers in the 15th round of the 1996 amateur draft.
1998 through to 2000 was when Towers put together three tremendous campaigns, going 30 – 21, with a 3.54 ERA in 500 innings.
Baltimore called up Towers in ’01, and he put together a season that was what one could call, respectable.
Never the type of pitcher to strikeout out many, Towers is more of a control pitcher who relies on location, not a 98mph fastball.
The years of ’02 to ’04 were a different story. Struggles contributed to a trade between the Jays and the Orioles, struggles that ultimately played a role in splitting time between Rochester, Baltimore, Syracuse, and then Toronto.
The difference between 2005 and his previous four years was not the 13-12 record in a career high 208 innings; it was the “little things”.
His strikeout to walk ratio increased dramatically from previous years, while batters hit nearly a career low of .287. Towers also cut back on the use of his fastball, while furthering the use of his slider, more than 10 percent from ’04.
That is almost the exact point where things began to turn for Towers.
2006 was more or less a regression in his career. Most of his time was spent in Syracuse, the Triple-A affiliate of the Jays, putting together suitable numbers for a player working his way back. When I says working his way back, his time with the Jays in ’06, was dreadful.
A 2 – 10 record, an ERA pushing 8.50, a demotion was ultimately the best course of action.
Was it confidence, mechanics, tipping pitches? I am almost certain that they all played a factor at one point or another, then again, baseball is a game of numbers and numbers do not lie, but do not always give the player the full benefit of the doubt.
The difference between ’05 and ’06, as diminutive as they may seem, changed the course of his career.
Towers continued the limited use of his fastball, a pitch that lost velocity at nearly 1mph per year since 2002.
Dependency on one pitch in Major League Baseball is a no-no. Technology is heightened to the point that batters, coaches, scouts, and anyone else involved can tell what type of pitch is coming, and when. Unfortunately, Towers continued that trend becoming reliant on a slider, a pitch that lost 2mph from ’05, nearly 30 percent of the time.
The next three years has seen Towers spend most of his time in Triple-A for a trio teams (Colorado Rockies, Washington Nationals and New York Yankees.)
This past year did show promise for Towers and the resurgence of his career.
Impeccable control has always been Towers’ biggest asset, as evidenced in his 1.51 walks per nine innings. Towers’ 2009 season allowed us to witness his best performance, I believe, in his whole career.
The majority of the ’09 campaign was spent with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees of the International League. A 2.74 ERA in 101 innings, batters hit a paltry .238, and Towers compiled more than twice as many strikeouts than walks, earning him a brief September call up with the Yankees. The Yankees did not retain his services for 2010. Nevertheless, hard work pays off. Towers recently signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A slight reduction in velocity made Towers adjust his arsenal. Unable to rely on his fastball is nothing unusual, a heavy reliance on a slider is continued, the difference is the development and controlled use of a third pitch (changeup).
A game of inches yes, a game of adjustment, always.
Josh Towers has gone through intense adversity, and has come through it, if nothing else, a smarter pitcher. Sheer determination, the will to win and the relentless need to adapt is something that every player, whether on top of their game or striving to achieve their dream, should attempt.
In this instance, we discussed a player that was not gifted with all the tools one needs to be a superstar, but as mentioned earlier, a winning attitude and determination can sometimes go beyond what is on the stat sheet.
Devon is a former student within Sports Management Worldwide’s Baseball General Manager Class. Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective and is a intern with The Football Outsiders and contributor with the Plymouth River Eels.