Kenny Bristow, Wasatch Wave
At the end of June, only 10 days into his first professional season, Orem Owlz third baseman Cal Towey was hitting just .133 and looking to work himself in as a regular starter for his new team.
When the calendar turned to July, little did the 6-foot-1, 215-pound rookie know that he was going to begin a hot streak at the plate that night in Grand Junction, Colo., facing the Rockies, that would continue throughout the first half of the month.
Towey, 23, the 17th-round selection of the Los Angeles Angels in last month's MLB First Year Player Draft, is currently on a nine-game hitting streak and has raised his batting average 160 points.
In the month of July alone, he is 16 for 37, having scored 11 runs with 15 runs batted in. Three of his four home runs have also come in the last 12 days, as has one of his three triples and two of his four doubles on the season.
It's not uncommon for a hitter to go through hot and cold streaks, so the Seattle native is taking it all in stride. “I’ve just really been trying to work on getting better every day,” he said. “I feel pretty comfortable up there right now. As long as you’re feeling good at the plate, everything’s all right, I guess.”
A lifetime single-sport athlete, Towey (pronounced “chewy”) seems to be coming into his own at just the right time. His father, Curt Towey, and uncle Steve both played baseball at higher levels with careers that made it into the minor leagues, so he knows a little about the hard work involved with pro baseball.
After starring at Eastside Catholic High School in Seattle, Towey was discovered competing in a Perfect Game Tournament for prospects in Jupiter, Fla., by the coaches at Baylor University. "I was actually pitching that day," Towey recalled. "I wasn’t really a pitching prospect more shortstop than anything back then."
Towey left the Pacific Northwest for Texas and spent four years on the Baylor roster. As a junior, he started all 66 games and was voted second team All-Big 12. His senior season as a Bear, Towey hit .291, stole 10 of 12 bases and knocked in 45 runs. He also drew a team-high 36 walks, a category he is doing well in so far during his short campaign in Orem.
Owlz skipper Bill Richardson attributes Towey getting hot at the plate to his hard work and ability to make adjustments. “A lot of these guys come in and try to take the league by storm,” Richardson said. “And to Cal’s credit, he’s recognized what he was doing wrong early — swinging uphill, trying to do too much, and has done a great job fixing that. He’s put in a lot of work with our hitting coaches, and I’m glad to see that paying off for him right now.”
Despite a stellar prep career that continued in college, Towey was overlooked in previous MLB drafts. “Nobody really talked to me about getting drafted or anything like that,” he said. “It was more about stuff to work on and what I could do to make myself a better player. A lot of teams wanted me to move to catcher — which I would have done in a heartbeat. I’ll do anything they want to play ball, you know.”
Towey is very happy to be in Orem, but admits he was a bit surprised by the Angels being the team to make the call to him on draft day. “I was at home in Seattle,” the rookie recalled. “I wasn’t following the draft or anything. Just hanging out with some friends having fun.”
Having fun seems to be one of Towey’s strong points on the field as well. After Friday night’s 11th inning walk-off win, which saw the young third baseman go 2 for 4 and score a pair of runs, he said, “Oh yeah feels really good to win. Everybody’s contributing and getting out there and grinding it out.”
The young Owlz have evened their season record at 11-11 and are starting to get a taste of pro ball success as a unit. A lot of that has to do with Towey’s hot start in July. “I’m not really thinking about a hitting streak or anything like that,” he said smiling after the game. “I just want to hit the ball hard in every at bat and hope good things happen.”
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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