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Rounding Into Form

MINNEAPOLIS–As Travis Bowyer’s baseball career sputtered out of the starting gate, the Twins never lost faith in the young righthander. Their confidence was based on one important fact: Bowyer was still just a kid.

He was a 20th-round pick in the 1999 draft as an 18-year-old out of Liberty High in Bedford, Va. He signed right away and played one game in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League. Bowyer spent 2000 in the GCL as well and finished 3-5, 4.07. He spent 2001 at Rookie-level Elizabethton, going 2-5, 6.10. Not exactly sparkling numbers, but the organization was patient.

Something changed before the 2002 season. Bowyer, who weighed 180 pounds when he was drafted, came into spring training with 225 pounds on a 6-foot-3 frame. A commitment to offseason conditioning and the natural maturation of a young ballplayer gave Bowyer a new look.

And at low Class A Quad City last year, he went 4-4, 2.16. This season at high Class A Fort Myers, Bowyer got off to a 2-0, 5.23 start with 14 walks and 24 strikeouts.

Bowyer remains a work in progress, but the Twins like what they see. "He’s a guy that is still very young," farm director Jim Rantz said. "He has good size and a good arm. We’re just bringing him along slowly here to try for more consistency."

Last year Bowyer was used as a spot starter and middle reliever.

"As all these high school kids go, they do grow into their body eventually," Rantz said. "You looked at his size and his arm strength, and you knew he was going to get bigger. We’re trying to put him in situations where he can succeed. Who’s to say he might not be a starter down the road?"

Bowyer has good velocity, sitting at 91 mph with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s. His three-pitch mix includes a slider and changeup.

"High school kids take a while to adjust to pro ball and also to build their confidence up," Rantz said. "It took him a little while to get going, but it looks like he’s on a pretty good roll right now."

Twin Killings

• Righthanders Beau Kemp and Ronnie Corona were demoted from Double-A New Britain to Fort Myers after they got into a 4 a.m. fistfight with each other. They were arrested and charged with assault and breach of peace.

• Triple-A Rochester first baseman Justin Morneau hit home runs in three consecutive games, capping a streak of five homers in eight games.

• Previous organization report: Dusty Goman

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