- Full name Dustin Michael McGowan
- Born 03/24/1982 in Savannah, GA
- Profile Ht.: 6'3" / Wt.: 235 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Long County
- Debut 07/30/2005
Drafted in the C round (33rd overall) by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2000 (signed for $950,000).
View Draft ReportBig and strong, McGowan also has one of the smoothest arm actions in the draft. He was dominant early with a 94-95 mph fastball, hard slider and good feel for pitching. He worked his way into becoming a fringe first-round pick before a bout with tendinitis caused his velocity to drop. He was shut down early, finishing the season with a 7-2, 1.23 record and 127 strikeouts in 63 innings.
Organization Prospect Rankings
McGowan ranked as the organization's No. 1 prospect entering 2003, and he finished that season strong by going 7-0 in Double-A. He started strong in 2004 and seemed on the verge of his first big league promotion when a torn elbow ligament halted his progress. He had Tommy John surgery in May 2004 and didn't return to the field until June 2005. Interestingly, the Blue Jays nearly voided his first pro contract ($950,000 as a supplemental first-round pick in 2000) when they discovered he had an inflamed elbow. It's conceivable that he may now be pitching with a healthy elbow for the first time as a pro. McGowan rehabbed vigorously from surgery, as evidenced by his relatively brief 13-month recovery period, working without a ball to refine his mechanics. His focal points were working to stay back during his delivery so his arm could catch up to his body, and getting on top of his pitches to deliver them on more of a downhill plane. McGowan pitched respectably in his first taste of the majors, going 61⁄3 innings in his debut to register the win, but seemed more relaxed on the mound when he moved to the bullpen in September to limit his workload. In his final appearance of the year, he struck out all four batters he faced with electric stuff. McGowan has overpowering frontline stuff and pitches down in the zone with explosive life. He has four major league weapons to attack hitters with, starting with a 92-94 mph four-seam fastball that he frequently dials up to 96 in relief. His fast-developing change is already his second pitch, and it's an effective weapon against lefthanders. He maintains fastball arm speed with the pitch. McGowan's breaking stuff is less consistent but does show promise. He gets good rotation on a downer curve, though his 86-88 mph slider has more the look of a potential out pitch. When it's working for him, his slider features sharp twoplane break. McGowan is athletic, quiet and diligent, and he has shown the aptitude to make adjustments to his level of competition. Like many young power pitchers, McGowan struggles to command his fastball, and sometimes his heater lacks movement. Big league hitters weren't as prone to chasing his breaking stuff out of the strike zone, so he'll need to get ahead in the count with his fastball. He's also seeking more consistency with his breaking pitches. The Blue Jays believe his curve and slider will be better than average once he learns to command them in the strike zone. McGowan showed a lot of growth in 2005, but he still has much improvement in front of him. He'll need to refine his fastball command if he's to become the front-of-the-rotation starter the Blue Jays envision. He'll compete for a rotation spot in spring training, but would benefit from a few months pitching at Triple-A Syracuse.
McGowan looked like he was headed for the Toronto rotation after a hot start that had him on the verge of a promotion to Syracuse in early May. But before he reached Triple-A, he learned he needed Tommy John surgery. Elbow troubles coming out of high school nearly caused the Blue Jays to void his $950,000 bonus, and they proceeded with caution by limiting his workload and pitch counts early in his career. When healthy, McGowan brings legitimate frontline starter stuff to the mound. His fastball sits at 94-95 mph and tops out at 97 with above-average life. He has a plus curveball with tight spin and bite, along with a sharp mid-80s slider. He maintains his fastball arm speed when he throws his changeup. The elbow injury clearly affected McGowan's command after he made significant progress the year before. He'll need to re-establish his control as well as the touch on his changeup once he returns. McGowan's rehabilitation has gone well, and Blue Jays officials say they're optimistic he can regain his overpowering stuff and are targeting a May return. He probably won't be at full strength until 2006.
Several clubs debated McGowan versus fellow Georgia prep product Adam Wainwright in the 2000 draft; Wainwright went four spots ahead of McGowan to the Braves. An inflamed elbow almost caused the Jays to void his contract after he signed for $950,000, but he has proved healthy since then. McGowan has added 30 pounds to his sturdy frame and now has No. 1 starter stuff that he maintains deep into games. He pitches at 94-95 mph with his fastball and touches 97 consistently with above-average life down in the zone. McGowan's power downer curveball and mid-80s slider, which at times is a plus put-away pitch, are average big league pitches. He has good arm speed on his changeup, though his changeup can be too firm and he could stand to vary speeds better. Otherwise, he mostly needs experience, a few more innings and consistency repeating his delivery. McGowan has better stuff than Roy Halladay, the Cy Young Award winner whom he could join in Toronto's rotation soon. He's in line for a big league promotion sometime in 2004.
The Blue Jays have a history of success when drafting high school righthanders in the first round, and McGowan is starting to fit the bill. The track record includes Steve Karsay (1990), Chris Carpenter (1993) and current Toronto ace Roy Halladay (1995). McGowan was a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Graeme Lloyd, a trade the Jays would make every time. A standout basketball wing guard/forward as well as a shortstop and pitcher, McGowan helped Long County High to the Georgia state playoffs three years in a row and became the most decorated pitcher from south Georgia since Joey Hamilton. He struggled out of the gates in 2002 but started to right himself with a dominating 11-strikeout, five-inning outing at Savannah with hundreds of friends and family on hand to watch. When McGowan is on, he has front-of-the-rotation stuff. His fastball ranks as his top pitch and the best in the organization. It's a heavy fastball that reaches anywhere from 92-97 mph. More important for a young pitcher, McGowan became more consistent with his fastball command late in the season. A true power pitcher, his breaking ball is a power curve with 11-to-7 break, thrown from a three-quarters release point, and he showed better control of the pitch in 2002. The combination helped him lead the low Class A South Atlantic League in strikeouts. A good fielder, he has an athletic pitcher's body and his arm works well. McGowan's changeup remains a work in progress, and he has yet to dominate his level of competition. He struggled with command and consistency of his delivery early in the season, when he tended to overstride. It resulted in too many pitches up in the strike zone and a 5.43 ERA through May. As with most young pitchers, though, his biggest need is innings and experience. McGowan has stepped to the front of the Blue Jays' line of young power arms, in part because of injuries to Francisco Rosario and Tracy Thorpe, in part because of his stuff, and in part because of his experience edge compared to Brandon League. Pitching on the same staff with Rosario and Thorpe at Charleston provided a positive, competitive atmosphere for McGowan, but he'll have to make the next step to Class A Dunedin without them. His third pro year was his first in a full-season league, and the Jays figure to continue taking it slow with him.
A bout with tendinitis as a high school senior dropped McGowan out of the first round, allowing the Blue Jays to nab him with a supplemental pick for the loss of Graeme Lloyd. Also a star basketball player in high school, McGowan had an invitation to big league camp in his contract, then stayed in extended spring as Toronto brought him along slowly. McGowan has a fluid, easy arm action and a good pitcher's body, giving him the most electric stuff in the system. His athleticism and arm speed help generate 92- 96 mph velocity on his fastball and command of his 78-80 mph power curveball. He also has improved his level of concentration. While McGowan finished third in the New-York Penn League in strikeouts, he also led the league in walks. He'll have to improve his command and changeup as he faces tougher competition. The Blue Jays believe his main need is just getting more pro experience. McGowan and 2001 draftee Brandon League should front an intriguing rotation at Class A Charleston. Then Toronto will learn which of their power arms is the best in the organization.
Minor League Top Prospects
Two years removed from 2004 Tommy John surgery, McGowan has fully regained his arm strength and for the second straight season divided his time between starting and relieving in both the majors and minors. He has the stuff for either role and was unhittable for stretches, but he was plagued by inconsistent command. Because McGowan has four pitches, he profiles more as a mid-rotation starter than a reliever, and he could aspire to No. 2 status because of his power stuff. He pitches at 92-94 mph, with the ability to reach 96 with his four-seam fastball, but the pitch can flatten out on him and catch too much of the plate. Batters had success putting the pitch in play when looking for it, so he has worked to better incorporate his two-seamer. McGowan's changeup is above-average, featuring good arm speed and deception. His breaking stuff is good enough to go to when behind in the count, and his sharp slider was often his best offering. His curveball also has the potential to become a plus pitch.
The Blue Jays' top prospect entering the season, McGowan headlined the league's best rotation and continued his momentum toward the majors. He was overpowering at Dunedin, allowing two earned runs or fewer in 12 of his 14 starts. He was clocked as high as 98 mph and scouts were impressed with his improved delivery and command. Along with Durbin and Vero Beach/St. Lucie righthander Joselo Diaz, McGowan showed the ability to overpower hitters almost solely with velocity. More important, he separated himself with his secondary pitches. He refined a slider and was able to use it as an out pitch at times. "He has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation pitcher," DeArmas said. "He has an excellent fastball, a nasty hammer and a good change, and he's improved his command and poise. He's a great power pitcher and a lot of fun to watch. He really gets after it."
In a league that had plenty of pitching, McGowan ranked as the pitcher most likely to be a No. 1 starter. He's still a work in progress because his command comes and goes, but he has the potential to have four major league pitches, including a plus fastball. Stearns said McGowan reminded him of a young Roger Clemens. "You're talking about a guy who throws 95-97 mph with the makings of an unbelievable curveball and slider, and he has great arm speed on his changeup," New Haven manager Marty Pevey said. "Once he learns to command two of his pitches, he'll be lights out." McGowan's fastball is what separates him from the pack. When he's on, he can touch the upper 90s and the pitch has great late life. His two-seamer features tremendous sink.
McGowan continued to show all the raw tools scouts love in a young pitcher. Wiry and athletic, he has a live arm and easy delivery that allows the ball to explode out of his hand. He throws a 94-96 mph fastball with plus movement, a 12-to-6 power curveball and a decent changeup. As with many inexperienced pitchers who throw heat, McGowan's command leaves something to be desired. His inconsistent mechanics led to a rough start but he gained consistency and led the SAL in strikeouts.
Managers agreed that teenagers Bautista and McGowan were the two most projectable righthanders in a league dominated by college pitchers. Armed with one of the better fastballs in the NY-P, McGowan finished third in the league with 80 strikeouts. He fared significantly better than he did in his pro debut, when he went 0-3, 6.48 in the Rookie-level Pioneer League. "He made great improvements," Auburn manager Paul Elliott said. "He has a feel for his changeup, a power curveball and a 94-96 mph fastball." While he was overpowering at times, McGowan was inconsistent and never lasted more than five innings. He also topped the league with 49 walks. "It's going to take a while but he has the ability," Saul said. "His breaking ball needs to get better."
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Slider in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006
- Rated Best Fastball in the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006
- Rated Best Fastball in the South Atlantic League in 2002