MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois senior Austin Cowen (Gillette, Wyo.) finally got the call he had been waiting for during day three of the Major League Baseball draft. The Los Angeles Dodgers selected the All-Summit League shortstop in the 35th round (overall pick 1,076) on Wednesday afternoon.
Cowen made the most of his senior year, batting .317 while driving in a team-leading 41 RBI and earned Second Team All-Summit League honors He finished the year seventh among the Summit League batting leaders
He hit four home runs, nine doubles, two triples and scored 24 runs while being just one of three Leathernecks to start in all 53 games. In fact, during his two year career Cowen not only played in every game but started every time he took the field (112 games).
"It's a childhood dream come true, but words cannot describe (the feeling), it's leaving me speechless," said Cowen.
A career .309 hitter at Western (124 hits in 409 at-bats), Cowen also posted a .397 on-base percentage all-time. A proven contact hitter, in 2011, Cowen walked more times than he struck out (25/24), then during the 2012 season he walked (15) and was hit by a pitch (13) as many times as he fanned (28).
The Dodgers, however, project Cowen as a catcher, a position he started at twice last season (49 at shortstop, 2 at second base). He becomes the second Leatherneck in as many years selected in the draft and 24th drafted all-time.
"I've been stretching, getting ready for being back behind the plate and catching as much as I can," said Cowen. "My mindset is I have to work as hard as possible and get comfortable back there. I'm up for whatever they need me to do, and I'll do whatever is needed if I can continue my career. Being able to play different positions should help me in the long run."
Western opened the 2012 season with quality wins against Georgia State and then eighth-ranked Georgia. But despite a disappointing team finish to his senior year, Cowen said he'll remember what the team accomplished in 2011.
"I'll definitely remember making the conference tournament last year. Despite not finishing the way we wanted this year, at least we had a little bit of that success in trying to turn the program around. I hope to see Leatherneck baseball continue growing, getting better and winning titles."